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Boom of Youth in Bangladesh Time to Reap Demographic Dividend

Boom of Youth in Bangladesh Time to Reap Demographic Dividend

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics reported a population of about 152 million people in 2012 which seems to be one of the biggest problem factors in our country. But when this piece of information is aided by the fact that the growth in young population is 2.8 per cent, while the annual population growth rate is now 1.34 per cent, the problem turns into a big opportunity for development. This youth profile implies productivity, enthusiasm and future leadership prospects. Considering all variants of population growth projections, this population golden age in Bangladesh will continue at least till 2035. For any nation, this is a onetime opportunity and the key to development depends on how well this youth group can contribute to the development of the nation. We have to bear in our mind that the population density is more than 1,115 persons per square kilometre and we are yet to develop a skilled workforce. Historically, agriculture has been a major driving force of the overall economy. But with such small land area containing a dense population, we have to move towards a skill-based manpower export approach. For last couple of decades, the remittance has been a huge positive indicator for our economy. At present more than 8 million workers are contributing through remittance which crossed the mark of USD 14 billion in 2013. So far, the majority of our workforce went as the blue collar worker, mainly in the Middle East and East Asian countries. But for last few years both these major markets are shrinking due to different political shifts, especially the turmoil in the Middle East region. There is very little chance that political stability in those regions will come in quick time. Also the labour markets in East Asian region are reducing. In this backdrop, it is important that we concentrate on finding new labour markets and shifting from sending blue collar workers to white collar ones. Certainly this requires long term planning in terms of both diplomatic efforts and skill enhancement of our youth force. The good news is the diplomatic issues have been well taken care off in both vision 2021 and vision 2041. Establishing digital Bangladesh through the development of skills of youth was the election commitment of the government. Digital Bangladesh has been a dream of our Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the government is very keen and already moving forward to keep the commitments given to the people. To buildup a digital Bangladesh, developing the youth segment is a must.The Department of Youth Development under the Ministry of Youth and Sports is working very hard keeping close alignment with the governments long term vision. The Department of Youth Development arranges different types of skill development training for both female and male youth segments on different trades to make them skilled for their future work sector, especially through self-employment. The Department also provides encouragement and extends support to different youth organizations in the form of technical and financial assistance to make their participation in national youth development process According to National Youth Policy, the age group between 18-35 years are called ‘Youth’ in Bangladesh. Like any other country, they are the most energetic and productive segment of the total population in Bangladesh. Therefore, the national development mostly depends on their motivation, working spirit, leadership skills and initiatives. We have to remember the crude fact that our current youth segment is yet to go a long way to compete in the world market. Under these circumstances, the Department of Youth Development under the Ministry of Youth and Sports has taken both long term and short term initiatives for transferring the disorganized and unproductive youth into an organized, disciplined and productive workforce.

A nation can enjoy the population golden age only once. If we look at the history, the United States of America can be an ideal example who could maximize this opportunity through their Baby Boom generation. Due to the shortage of land area we have to shift towards a manpower export based approach. Bangladesh has already entered this segment of Demographic Golden Age and those days are not far when we can claim that our population is no longer a burden for us. But for that we have to carefully execute the long, medium and short term initiatives taken by the government for developing the skill base of our youth segment.

1.Farah Tanzir

  1. Jenny D Cruze

Writers are students of Development Studies, BRAC University