The long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have disrupted our economic development. Considering the global situation, ongoing recession, and increasing unemployment, discussion on the labor market is pressing.
Keeping this in mind, the Economics Study Center, University of Dhaka has arranged its 8th dialogue session on Labor Market Recovery in Bangladesh: Prospects Amid the Global Recession on Thursday (December 22), said a press release.
The session was moderated by Dr. Selim Raihan, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, and Executive Director, SANEM. And the panelists were Dr. Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dr. Sayema Haque Bidisha, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, and Research Director, SANEM, Bijon Islam, Co-founder, and CEO, LightCastle Partners, and Mohammad Nazmul Avi Hossain, Programme Officer, ILO.
The session was initiated by Dr. Selim Raihan and he then handed over the floor to Nazmul Avi Hossain to highlight the key areas.
He primarily mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the major shocks to the labor market. The Ukraine-Russia war was also highlighted as another key issue. On top of these, he discussed that our LDC graduation will surely have some impact on the labor market. He tried to shed light on the German reporting system on Human Rights that ensures the factory's labor rights condition and how it has been helpful for their labor market. Moreover, he mentioned important aspects like workers who’re in vulnerable positions, increasing youth participation, and creating more job opportunities that need holistic support from academia and government.
After that Bijon Islam was asked to express his view and he mentioned various sectors of our economy that employ a large number of people. The ongoing global tension and the Covid-19 pandemic have made countries more concerned about their economy and believe that they should protect it. He also mentioned that technical advancements have a great role to play in the labor market as well.
Bangladesh is still largely dependent on imports mostly for machineries and vehicles. And his discussion also focused on how this has an impact on the labor market. Furthermore, he also mentioned the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution and how we should get prepared to face them.
The next discussant was Dr. Sayema Haque Bidisha and she mentioned that the new macro and micro economic challenges are making the current labor market scenario more complicated. She also stressed on the issue of decent working opportunities and conditions and why it needs our attention. From minimum wage to basic labor rights- it’s important to advocate for them.
The skill gap in the labor market is another acute challenge as per Dr. Bidisha. Most importantly, she mentioned that we need to make futuristic policies and ensure that inflation will be under control as this challenge creates problems in all aspects of the economy. Besides, she hopes that we will eventually come up with policies that solve the structural issues of our local labor market.
Dr. Fahmida Khatun was the last discussant of this dialogue and like all the other panelists she also tried to sum up the current global scenario that is affected by both pandemic and ongoing war. During her discussion she said, “During the Covid-19 pandemic -commerce sector flourished and it created a good number of jobs as well. There’s always a silver lining and we should see every challenge as an opportunity.” Moreover, taking measures to combat sudden supply side disruption can be really helpful. At the same time, establishing a skilled and properly trained labor force will help us to secure more jobs abroad. Lastly, she mentioned caregiving in the healthcare sector as one of the budding industries where we can focus on. And hoped that the government will provide the necessary measures and incentives to motivate people into unconventional working sectors.
Later on, Dr. Raihan tried to pinpoint the significant points that had been discussed throughout the session and gave an overall summary. To answer the question about skill gap, Dr. Fahmida Khatun said that to make a skilled labor force we need to make the curriculum more relevant and more socially applicable.
Because employers like to hire people with more real life knowledge and expertise. Dr. Bidisha also mentioned that focusing on soft skill and interpersonal skill will help Bangladesh to decrease the number of educated unemployed. She also mentioned that polytechnical education can also be another good opportunity that we are yet to explore. The session ended with a hope that Bangladesh will be able to successfully combat this current situation and make a commendable progress in this post-pandemic era.