Hiren Pandit: Bangladesh Awami League has announced the manifesto ahead of the 12th national parliament election. The slogan of this year’s manifesto is ‘Smart Bangladesh: Development will be visible and employment will increase this time’. The ruling party has prioritized 11 issues by promising to build a smart Bangladesh. Creation of employment, keeping the price of goods within the purchasing power, establishing consistency between incomes, keeping the youth and youth society involved in the transformation and development of the country, taking measures against capital smugglers, eliminating bribery and corruption, bringing debt-tax-evasion and confiscating the illegal assets of the corrupt. The party promised.
Apart from this, in agriculture, service, economic and industrial production sectors, ensuring the fundamental rights of third-gender people have also been given importance. Bangladesh is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and becoming a developed country by 2041. For this, the government is creating various job opportunities for the youth. Moreover, important steps are being taken to ensure specific jobs. Everyone should come forward for employment and self-employment.
It is now imperative for us to do this. Transforming unemployed youth into manpower through skill development training and creating employment opportunities for them. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has taken and implemented various steps to establish Bangladesh as Sonar Bangla by providing youth with training in various professions and their employment. Following the footsteps of the father of the nation, the Awami League government is working tirelessly to make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041.
The guidelines for our development are to become a middle-income country, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and to build a developed, prosperous and smart Bangladesh by 2041. In a decade and a half, Bangladesh has gained status in the world court as a dynamic and fast-growing economic power. Once in government, the party will take more steps to improve the overall economy, including high-income, sustainable and inclusive development. And to implement that, Awami League has taken a special action plan for youth employment.
The slogan of Awami League’s 2008 manifesto was ‘Charter for Change’, 2014 ‘Bangladesh is moving forward’, 2018 manifesto’s slogan was ‘Bangladesh on Prosperity and Progress’. It contained 21 special pledges. Awami League president Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the manifesto on December 27. Awami League president presented the summary of the manifesto. Regarding the transition from digital to smart Bangladesh in the manifesto, she said that technological capability is vital to survive in the world competition in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
For this reason, it is announced to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by combining the four pillars of ‘Smart Citizen’, ‘Smart Government’, ‘Smart Economy’ and ‘Smart Society’. Implementation of Smart Bangladesh mentions work in each area. It has been promised to make Bangladesh a hunger-poverty-free Smart Sonar Bangla by 2041 if elected by the people. The Prime Minister said that the youth society has a glorious role in all the democratic struggles and liberation wars of Bangladesh.
Demographic changes in 2041 will see nearly half of the population under 30 years of age; The number of youths in the age group of 15-29 years will be more or less 2 crore. Awami League will keep these young people involved in the transformation and development of Bangladesh. Employment opportunities will be expanded for able-bodied, qualified youth and youth. Training will be given to 3.1 lakh youth in the district and upazila and the program will continue to provide support for their self-employment.
Steps have been taken to create employment for an additional 1.5 million people by 2030. Highlighting the statistics of unemployed youth, Sheikh Hasina said that the rate of unemployed youth will be reduced from 10.6 percent to 3.0 percent by 2028. Adequate technical training is being provided to illiterate and low-educated youth and youth. Continuation of micro-credit facility on easy terms for trained self-employed entrepreneurs and increased loan amount.
The National Service Program will be gradually expanded to all upazilas of the country to create employment for the youth. Sheikh Hasina said that youth training and employment centers will be established in every upazila to strengthen the training program at the grassroots level. The proportion of 17.8 percent of youth out of education, training and employment will be reduced to below 7 percent in the next 5 years. In the next 5 years, 750 crore youth loans will be distributed among 2 lakh youth and 2 lakh 50 thousand youth will be made self-employed. In the fourth industrial revolution era, polytechnic and vocational institutes will be organized by creating new technology education opportunities to exploit the developing employment opportunities at home and abroad.
For the intellectual development of the youth, libraries will be established in each upazila, democratic, cultural, and physical training centers, and ‘Smart Youth Hubs’ will be developed. Entrepreneurs will be assisted by setting up special cells to provide loans on easy terms and low interest from various commercial banks, specialized banks and financial institutions through revolving loan fund of the Youth Development Department. Schemes will be undertaken to bring disadvantaged, persons with disabilities, and physically challenged youths under educational and medical assistance.
The work of developing the Sheikh Hasina National Youth Development Institute as a center for excellence will continue through the development of infrastructure and the recruitment of adequate manpower. Loans on soft terms, necessary subsidies, technical advice and policy support will be provided for setting up commercial dairy and poultry farms for employment generation. More than 2 million people are rejoining the labor force in the country every year. One of the goals of the Awami League is to create employment opportunities for each of them through the development of the industrial sector and the establishment of new industries.
Cottage, small and medium industries can create the most employment opportunities. The sector will be made stronger, well-organized and dynamic by removing barriers, providing training for management skills and reducing dependence on foreign human resources. To attract the youth of the country, this year’s manifesto has given maximum importance to industrialization and employment. Awami League has adopted a special action plan for the employment of youth. Self-employment measures will be taken in the village to reduce the tendency of the young people of the village to go to the city.
The government will give all possible support to encourage the youth in agriculture, industry and business. At the village level, agricultural machinery service centers, and workshops will be set up to expand rural mechanization services including machinery repair, and through these, productive employment programs will be expanded by training rural youth and agricultural entrepreneurs. In addition to all these, investment assistance in loans and materials to private sector marginal and small entrepreneurs to manufacture and market light machinery will continue.
Employment opportunities will be expanded for able-bodied, qualified youth and youth. 31 lakh youth in the district and upazila will be trained and the program will continue to provide support for their self-employment. Steps have been taken to create employment for an additional 1.5 million people by the year 2030. The youth unemployment rate will be reduced to 3.0 percent by 2028 from 10.6 percent last time. Adequate technical training is being provided to illiterate and less educated youth and youth. Continuation of micro-credit facility on easy terms for trained self-employed entrepreneurs and increased loan amount.
To create employment for the youth, the National Service Program will be gradually expanded to all upazilas of the country. To strengthen the training program at the grassroots level, the ‘Youth Training and Employment Center’ will be established in every upazila. The proportion of 17.8 percent of youth out of education, training and employment will be reduced to below 7 percent in the next 5 years. In the next 5 years, 750 crore youth loans will be distributed among 2 lakh youth and 2 lakh 50 thousand youth will be made self-employed. To ensure the overall welfare of the youth, programs have been launched in all the districts and upazilas of the country to motivate the youth, provide training, and self-reliance by taking post-training self-employment projects, providing youth loans, poverty alleviation, etc.
The ‘Sheikh Hasina Youth Volunteer Award’ has been introduced since 2022 to reflect the effect of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s entrancing leadership and global recognition among the youth. A total of 3 crore 31 lakh youth have been imparted skill enhancement training in 83 trades till January 2023 for employment and self-employment. Among them, 7 lakh 54 thousand people have become self-reliant through self-employment till February 2023.
4 thousand 64 youth organizations have been registered in the last 5 years. 14 crore 81 lakh 40 thousand rupees has been given to 930 youth organizations from the Youth Welfare Fund in the last 5 years. Under the loan program for setting up and expanding trained youth projects, 12 lakh 10 thousand beneficiaries have been provided loan facilities of Tk 257 crore 15 lakh from principal and revolving loan funds till December 2022. The government has implemented the National Service Program to create employment for the youth. So far, 138 upazilas of 47 districts of the country have come under the National Service program.
Among the trained youth, 1 lakh 47 thousand people are employed in various jobs. A ‘Youth Research Center’ has been set up to research various issues related to youth. A ‘National Youth Council’ has been formed to mobilize youth activities at the national level. Members of the National Youth Council are conducting activities across the country. Vehicle driving training is being imparted to the youth to create efficient drivers for the development of a safe and sustainable communication system. So far 16 thousand 500 skilled vehicle drivers have been trained.
Computer and networking training is being imparted to underprivileged youth at the grassroots level in mobile vans to develop IT and Fourth Industrial Revolution skills. Bangladesh emerged as the second largest (21 percent) provider of services in the online labor market. Freelancing training has been given to 6 lakh 50 thousand educated youth. ‘Priyapay’ has been introduced to bring their earned income to the country within 5 minutes. In the financial year 2022-23, the information technology sector generated an income of 665 million dollars.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher