The Covid-19 pandemic has already badly hampered employment in government and the private sector. Many recruitment examinations were stopped and fewer job circulars were published as a result of the restrictions put in force to check the spread of the deadly virus in the country.
Although employment was about to recover from initial setbacks at the end of last year, many recruitment tests have not yet been held due to the pandemic, even more than a year after completion of the application process.
Now the sector has stumbled again due to the second wave of the pandemic with a surge in the infection rate and a nationwide lockdown to tackle it. Many of the ongoing recruitment processes are at a standstill until further notice.
According to Bdjobs.com, the first and leading career management site in the country, the number of job circulars or advertisements has come down 50% amid the second wave of the pandemic.
Data from the leading job site show 2,894 job circulars have been posted in the first 15 days of February and 3,236 circulars in the first half of March. But in 15 days of April, circulars dropped 43% to 1,847, compared to the same period of previous months.
AKM Fahim Mashroor, chief executive officer of Bdjobs.com, told The Business Standard, "Corporate hiring recovered to the pre-pandemic level in November-December. But this year, the private sector is not witnessing its usual 10-15% annual growth in manpower recruitment."
Corporate hiring recovered to the pre-pandemic level in November-December. But this year, the private sector is not witnessing its usual 10-15% annual growth in manpower recruitment.
Recruitment at state-owned commercial and specialised banks and financial institutions is being delayed due by the crisis, which has been frustrating for job seekers.
Recruitment of around 4,500 first and second-class officers has remained on hold for one year despite the banks being short-staffed.
According to sources, right now the application process for more than 30 job circulars is ongoing and around a dozen recruitments have been suspended.
At this time, more than six lakh graduates who have been looking for a job after completing their academic studies from different universities, have fallen into uncertainty and a state of depression.
Some job seekers have also been frustrated as they are nearing or crossing the 30-year age limit for government jobs.
Recently, some job seekers sought a two-year extension on the age limit for government jobs, changing it from 30 years to 32, as a corona stimulus.
Sources said after the stagnation in job recruitment since March last year, job opportunities were recovering almost to pre-pandemic levels at the beginning of this year.
The Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) held the 41st BCS preliminary tests on 19 March this year, which was considered a first step to putting recruitment tests back on track.
But the second wave of the pandemic and the new nationwide lockdown have derailed the ongoing recruitment processes.
Abdul Halim graduated from National University in 2018. In the beginning, he attended two or three recruitment tests but failed to qualify as he prepared very poorly for the tests.
More than one year of heart and soul preparation, he qualified in a preliminary test for a grade nine government job at the end of 2019. However, his final result has been pending for more than one year.
He said, "I could not take part in any test in 2020 as everything was stopped due to the pandemic."
"Before the pandemic, I maintained all my expenses on income from tutoring. But now I have no students as all the educational institutions are closed. I have been going through a very hard time for the last year," he added.
Recruitment at public banks and financial institutions delayed
The recruitment of around 4,500 first and second-class officers for banks and financial institutions has remained on hold since last year.
The recruitment aimed at filling vacant posts as per demand anticipated in 2018.
Bankers' Selection Committee Secretariat (BSCS) received the demand letter against the vacant posts in 2019 and published several recruitment notifications accordingly.
But now the committee has fallen into trouble since it has not been able to hold previous recruitment tests, let alone the latest ones against the circular of 2020.
According to sources, BSCS had hoped to complete the halted tests after completion of the 41st BCS exam.
However, as the pandemic situation has worsened again, there are new fears about tests being delayed.
A BSCS official who declined to be named, said, "Attempts were taken for the preliminary test after the application process ended last year, but it was not possible due to the pandemic."
He said the tests could not be administered as educational institutions that serve as exam centres were closed.
"We waited for the BCS exam through the pandemic last year but since the end of the BCS test in March this year, coronavirus infections have started to increase again and there are health risk concerns about administering new recruitment tests."
Age limit extension for public jobs
A group of job seekers has demanded that the government extend the age limit for public jobs to 32 years as a Covid-19 stimulus to compensate for the loss of time due to the pandemic.
They revealed the demand at a press conference on 12 April.
Taslima Lima, a member of the central team of the job seekers who demanded the extension of the age limit, said, "The government has already announced many stimulus packages to stabilise the socio-economic condition of the country. Almost all sectors have been helped by a government stimulus package, but it is sad that unemployed youths are being deprived."
Md Sajid Setu, a job seeker who finished his academic career at Rajshahi University, told the Business Standard, "Job seekers have already lost 1.5 years of valuable time due to the pandemic. Those who were 28 or 29 at the beginning of the pandemic in Bangladesh are now on the edge of 30."
"They have not had a chance to sit for any exam during this time. Considering this impact, we demand a 2-year extension in the age limit as a stimulus," he added.