NEET Youth in Bangladesh: A Crisis in Need of TVET Solutions

NEET Youth in Bangladesh: A Crisis in Need of TVET SolutionsTheoretically, we learn just about everything from our standard educational system. Learning something by heart, on the other hand, is a very different ballgame. Consider the following: two people, one with ten years of cooking experience and the other having read a thousand cookbooks, are competing in a cook-off. In your opinion, who would come out on top? Vocational education is valuable because it fills in the gaps between classroom learning and practical experience.

Learning About Vocational Education

Vocational education consists of classes or programs that teach students the skills necessary to perform a specific occupation. Certifications, diplomas, and even associate’s degrees are common outcomes of this type of training. Vocational training is a popular alternative to or supplement to more traditional kinds of education for many people.

Bangladesh has a large youth population, but almost 40% of its young adults (those between the ages of 15 and 24) are NEET (not in education, employment, or training). There are currently 11.6 million young people in the labor force, which is almost 20% of the overall youth population. This places Bangladesh just above the war-torn Maldives and politically unstable Yemen as the region’s worst NEET performers. Nearly 62% of these sedentary youth are female, which points to deeper problems including discrimination, inequality, and child marriage in addition to environmental reasons.

Despite how the word ‘inactive’ may make these young people seem, they have not made a conscious decision to avoid working. These young people would rather be in school or earning a living income. Unfortunately, the available training and educational programs do not adequately prepare them for occupations that would provide them with a living salary.

 

Problems and Government Programs

The Department of Youth Development (DoYD) operates under the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) and is tasked with “transforming the disorganized and unproductive youth into a disciplined and productive workforce.” The 7th Five Year Plan (FYP) envisions youth engagement in disaster management, primary healthcare, social awareness, and training-and-funding for self-employment in order to address the problem of the NEET population. Goals were also set to train 1.9 million young people in the 7th FYP, with the expectation that 30% of those trainees would go on to engage in self-employment. The administration also plans to open new facilities dedicated to youth education and development. These goals will be reached through the formation of public-private partnerships, the allocation of resources for human development, the enhancement of the connection between education and employment, and the generation of new employment and business prospects.

The Government of Bangladesh has made it a priority to work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) of achieving “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.”

 

The Current Situation Regarding Bangladesh’s Skill Development

Bangladesh has a workforce of 60 million people and adds 2 million youths to the workforce every year, so it’s important to take a close look at the skills development scenario taking place there. Despite improvements in educational opportunities, the vast majority of people in the labor force are neither college graduates or even high school dropouts.

In both rural and urban areas, more than 80% of such workers are currently engaged in the informal sector and unregulated economic activities. Due to the low level of expertise required, those who perform these tasks are generally paid poorly by their employers, who may be sole proprietors or employees of small businesses. The TVET system is unable to help these people improve their skillsets. However, it is essential and necessary to improve their situation by providing them with adequate employment that increases their productivity, incomes, and social protection in line with the cost of life in the country.

Bangladesh has a workforce of 60 million people and adds 2 million youths to the workforce every year, so it’s important to take a close look at the skills development scenario taking place there. Despite improvements in educational opportunities, the vast majority of people in the labor force are neither college graduates or even high school dropouts. The majority of employees (50%) had a high school diploma or below, while only 6% had a college degree or higher. Using updated statistics, we learn that just about half a million people in Bangladesh receive any benefit from the Bangladesh Technical Education Board’s (BTEB) certificate, certification, or short course programs that include formal education prerequisites and course materials. Another 500,000 enroll in non-standard, short courses with varying topics that are not governed by the BTEB but are instead provided by NGOs and private providers. It is estimated that 75% of trainees will finish their programs, bringing the total number of trained workers to about 750,000 annually.

 

Difficulties and Prospects

The preceding analysis highlights four main points. One, workers whose education and skillsets are lacking are caught in a downward spiral of poor production and pay. Second, the low and mid-level skill development arrangements for a mere million and 750,000 completers are, to say the least, inadequate for a workforce of 60 million, with at least a third within 15-24 years of age. Third, the balance between advanced degrees and certifications and entry-level education is extremely fine. There are a lot of people working in low-skill jobs, but only a fraction of them benefit from the available training. Last but not least, this apparent deficiency in the number of completers and training balance is symptomatic of flaws in the market responsiveness, quality, and relevance of this training.

In light of the fact that young people will continue to constitute the majority of Bangladesh’s population for the next three decades, it is crucial that immediate measures be implemented to guarantee adequate educational and occupational opportunities for all of these people. This will maximize the benefits of the demographic dividend these young people may provide to the country.

As part of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Bangladesh has opted to focus on ensuring that its young people have access to quality jobs, education, and training (SDG 8). The 12 goals the country must reach in order to reach this objective include macroeconomic measures that promote job growth, development-oriented policies that encourage productive activities, policies to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men of working age (including the young, old, and those with disabilities), and a decrease in the percentage of youth who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET). Also included are goals for ensuring that all workers, particularly migrants (women), and those in dangerous occupations, have access to safe working conditions and protections for their rights on the job.

 

The Way Ahead

In light of the fact that young people will continue to constitute the majority of Bangladesh’s population for the next three decades, it is crucial that immediate measures be implemented to guarantee adequate educational and occupational opportunities for all of these people. This will maximize the benefits of the demographic dividend these young people may provide to the country.

To improve human capital, the government has already taken some measures, such as using technology and knowledge-based solutions.

Theoretically, we learn just about everything from our standard educational system. Learning something by heart, on the other hand, is a very different ballgame. Consider the following: two people, one with ten years of cooking experience and the other having read a thousand cookbooks, are competing in a cook-off. In your opinion, who would come out on top? Vocational education is valuable because it fills in the gaps between classroom learning and practical experience.

 

Learning About Vocational Education

Vocational education consists of classes or programs that teach students the skills necessary to perform a specific occupation. Certifications, diplomas, and even associate’s degrees are common outcomes of this type of training. Vocational training is a popular alternative to or supplement to more traditional kinds of education for many people.

Bangladesh has a large youth population, but almost 40% of its young adults (those between the ages of 15 and 24) are NEET (not in education, employment, or training). There are currently 11.6 million young people in the labor force, which is almost 20% of the overall youth population. This places Bangladesh just above the war-torn Maldives and politically unstable Yemen as the region’s worst NEET performers. Nearly 62% of these sedentary youth are female, which points to deeper problems including discrimination, inequality, and child marriage in addition to environmental reasons.

Despite how the word ‘inactive’ may make these young people seem, they have not made a conscious decision to avoid working. These young people would rather be in school or earning a living income. Unfortunately, the available training and educational programs do not adequately prepare them for occupations that would provide them with a living salary.

Problems and Government Programs

The Department of Youth Development (DoYD) operates under the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) and is tasked with “transforming the disorganized and unproductive youth into a disciplined and productive workforce.” The 7th Five Year Plan (FYP) envisions youth engagement in disaster management, primary healthcare, social awareness, and training-and-funding for self-employment in order to address the problem of the NEET population. Goals were also set to train 1.9 million young people in the 7th FYP, with the expectation that 30% of those trainees would go on to engage in self-employment. The administration also plans to open new facilities dedicated to youth education and development. These goals will be reached through the formation of public-private partnerships, the allocation of resources for human development, the enhancement of the connection between education and employment, and the generation of new employment and business prospects.

The Government of Bangladesh has made it a priority to work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) of achieving “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.”

 

The Current Situation Regarding Bangladesh’s Skill Development

Bangladesh has a workforce of 60 million people and adds 2 million youths to the workforce every year, so it’s important to take a close look at the skills development scenario taking place there. Despite improvements in educational opportunities, the vast majority of people in the labor force are neither college graduates or even high school dropouts.

In both rural and urban areas, more than 80% of such workers are currently engaged in the informal sector and unregulated economic activities. Due to the low level of expertise required, those who perform these tasks are generally paid poorly by their employers, who may be sole proprietors or employees of small businesses. The TVET system is unable to help these people improve their skillsets. However, it is essential and necessary to improve their situation by providing them with adequate employment that increases their productivity, incomes, and social protection in line with the cost of life in the country.

Bangladesh has a workforce of 60 million people and adds 2 million youths to the workforce every year, so it’s important to take a close look at the skills development scenario taking place there. Despite improvements in educational opportunities, the vast majority of people in the labor force are neither college graduates or even high school dropouts. The majority of employees (50%) had a high school diploma or below, while only 6% had a college degree or higher. Using updated statistics, we learn that just about half a million people in Bangladesh receive any benefit from the Bangladesh Technical Education Board’s (BTEB) certificate, certification, or short course programs that include formal education prerequisites and course materials. Another 500,000 enroll in non-standard, short courses with varying topics that are not governed by the BTEB but are instead provided by NGOs and private providers. It is estimated that 75% of trainees will finish their programs, bringing the total number of trained workers to about 750,000 annually.

 

Difficulties and Prospects

The preceding analysis highlights four main points. One, workers whose education and skillsets are lacking are caught in a downward spiral of poor production and pay. Second, the low and mid-level skill development arrangements for a mere million and 750,000 completers are, to say the least, inadequate for a workforce of 60 million, with at least a third within 15-24 years of age. Third, the balance between advanced degrees and certifications and entry-level education is extremely fine. There are a lot of people working in low-skill jobs, but only a fraction of them benefit from the available training. Last but not least, this apparent deficiency in the number of completers and training balance is symptomatic of flaws in the market responsiveness, quality, and relevance of this training.

In light of the fact that young people will continue to constitute the majority of Bangladesh’s population for the next three decades, it is crucial that immediate measures be implemented to guarantee adequate educational and occupational opportunities for all of these people. This will maximize the benefits of the demographic dividend these young people may provide to the country.

As part of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Bangladesh has opted to focus on ensuring that its young people have access to quality jobs, education, and training (SDG 8). The 12 goals the country must reach in order to reach this objective include macroeconomic measures that promote job growth, development-oriented policies that encourage productive activities, policies to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men of working age (including the young, old, and those with disabilities), and a decrease in the percentage of youth who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET). Also included are goals for ensuring that all workers, particularly migrants (women), and those in dangerous occupations, have access to safe working conditions and protections for their rights on the job.

 

The Way Ahead

In light of the fact that young people will continue to constitute the majority of Bangladesh’s population for the next three decades, it is crucial that immediate measures be implemented to guarantee adequate educational and occupational opportunities for all of these people. This will maximize the benefits of the demographic dividend these young people may provide to the country.

To improve human capital, the government has already taken some measures, such as using technology and knowledge-based solutions.