It seems that Covid-19 has added another blow for the youth of the country besides the ongoing havoc leading to death and despondency. The education and job market are the two prime concerns of students and it has been on a standstill due to coronavirus pandemic.
Although the entire young generation of the country is not educated, the current crisis has made the educated youths the most vulnerable. Many have already termed them the "lockdown generation". What is alarming is that according to media reports almost 79.5 percent of the unemployed are youths in Bangladesh.
Among the unemployed youth, around 50 percent are university graduates. A survey conducted by a non-government organisation revealed that more than eight lakh students graduating every year from different public and private universities join with other existing students to compete in the job market.
According to Bangladesh Employment and Labour Market Watch 2018, youth unemployment rate in the country is the highest among graduates with a tertiary degree.
However, the country is indeed blessed that the youth occupy the greater portions of the population. But it also raises a question - what will we do with a large number of youths if they are not equipped with life skills?
For example, parents and relatives often complain that job opportunities are few, while employers claim there are not enough skilled people to hire. This indicates that the majority of job seekers are devoid of expertise.
This situation is, no doubt, very common but is now serving as a double blow as it is estimated that a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic is likely to create a two-fold rise in youth employment in 2020, up to 24.8 percent, while last year it was only 11.87 percent.
Why are the youth most vulnerable during the corona pandemic? Are they at huge risk of being infected? The answer to the second question is still unclear as every individual has the chance of being infected, irrespective of any age group, according to WHO. But the first question can be dealt with from many angles.
Among many causes, three are more pertinent. First, in the wake of corona crisis, education has been disrupted. Though the country's education as soon as the pandemic hit went online, it did not go smoothly everywhere, revealing a digital divide.
Besides, there were many controversies with regards to evaluating students' grades in the existing online education system. There was a gap between between teaching and testing as the sound quality was not appropriate in most cases in online classes.
All government and non-government jobs entrance exams have been halted and the private sector is suffering from investment uncertainty, consequently showing no interest in recruiting people and instead, they are busy laying off their employees.
Ultimately, the dreams of the youth are on the verge of dimming and many have already passed their age limit for entrance to any job.
According to the ILO, more than one-in-six people aged 18-29 have stopped working since the onset of the pandemic. The hardest hit is the informal sectors. Considering the present situation, the ILO and ADB say that around 15 million youth jobs may be lost in the 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020.
The far-reaching consequences can be they will suffer from moral despondency. This sort of frustration can be fueled further by indifferent behavior from the families. As a result, many more social problems may arise even in the post-pandemic period.
Unfortunately, this 'lockdown generation' of the country is being drawn more and more towards online platforms, getting addicted to online manias, resulting in irrepairable loss for the country.
There is no denying that youth unemployment has been one of the daunting issues of the country over the years. Though the present government has made remarkable progress in creating more opportunities for the young generation, the sudden attack of the Covid-19 has pushed back many of them.
It is very imperative to review the employment sector to find out a conducive solutions. Besides, it is time to think of inclusive education and ensure a student-friendly educational environment and it is time to motivate the youth to remind them that better days will return very soon.