74 percent of Bangladeshi youth are not taking any initiative to upskill themselves for post-Covid-19 job market challenges, survey by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), with support from Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government revealed.
The findings of the recent study released through a webinar on 31 October to assess the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on Bangladeshi youth, says a BYLC press release.
From April to September, 2020,the survey conducted 1,464 youth, aged between 18 and 35, across eight divisions of Bangladesh. The respondents included students, fresh graduates, young professionals, and young entrepreneurs. Among the students there was representation from public universities, private universities, colleges under National University, Bangla and English medium schools. Educators and industry experts were also consulted to suggest ways forward to address the challenges pertaining to employment, youth's experience of online education, entrepreneurial opportunities, and mental well-being during and after the pandemic.
When Covid-19 hit Bangladesh, the government was prompt in prioritizing remote learning strategies to keep education uninterrupted, yet students' learning was affected by regional and institution-wise disparity in digital readiness. More than 50 percent of the youth surveyed referred to the online classes taken by educational institutions as 'slightly effective' and 'not that effective'.
According to the study, although Covid-19 has given rise to the demand for a whole new set of skills, young people are yet to recognize the importance of acquiring such skills. 74 percent of the surveyed youth said that they are not taking any initiative to upskill themselves for postCovid-19 job market challenges.
Young entrepreneurs with limited cash runway struggled to stay operational during Covid19. 62 percent of the surveyed young entrepreneurs reported that they had to shut down their businesses temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic. In the absence of low-cost funding, digital and physical infrastructure, and mentorship support, young entrepreneurs foresee the business landscape of the country as bleak for them.
As the youth were trying to disentangle the challenges posed by Covid-19 in their education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, their mental and emotional well-being suffered. 61 percent of the surveyed youth mentioned experiencing mental stress in this situation, but only 20 percent of them took expert advice. Help-seeking behaviour was lower in women than that of men mainly due to social taboos and family restrictions.
Speaking at the webinar as the chief guest, Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, deputy minister, Ministry of Education, stressed on the importance of vocational training for youth to address the gaps in skills and employment opportunities. "It is essential for us to prioritize technical and vocational education, or else we will not be able to reap the benefits of demographic dividend," he said.
The webinar was moderated by Ejaj Ahmed, president and founder of BYLC. Special guests Shaheen Anam, executive director, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), and Tina F. Jabeen, managing director and CEO, Startup Bangladesh Limited, also spoke at the webinar. The discussion was organized with support from Dhaka Tribune as the media partner.