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Job creation key to robust growth: Study

DHAKA: Bangladesh now needs to focus on creating more and higher quality jobs especially in the export oriented non-RMG sectors to propel economic growth, says a study jointly carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the World Bank (WB).

The comprehensive study titled the Jobs Diagnostic was launched yesterday at a high-level workshop where experts on this issue reviewed its findings and recommended some actions to attain the target.

Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam, senior secretary and member of the General Economic Division, Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, chaired the workshop, jointly organised by the World Bank and the ILO and co-hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

ILO Country Director Srinivas Raddy, Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Professor Mustafizur Rahman, WB acting country director Rajashree Paralkar, Economist and Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute (PRI) Ahsan H. Mansur and the lead author of the study Thomas Farole participated in the panel discussions.

The study and the panel discussions on it at the workshop prioritized rapid development of a national jobs strategy to increase employments, raise quality of jobs and create suitable jobs for vulnerable workers.

The study finds that despite Bangladesh’s robust economic growth, the pace of job creation has slowed in the recent years. The annual growth rate for jobs fell to 1.8 percent in 2010-15 after growing 2.7 percent annually in the period 2003-10, and has almost stalled in the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector.

It suggested that the country generate quality jobs and address gender disparities as only 1 in 5 workers are employed in wage work while 1 in 3 working women, as opposed to 5.0 percent of working men, are engaged in unpaid work.

The study, however, finds that international migration is a way for many Bangladeshis to seek better paying jobs in spite of costs and risks to worker safety.

The panelists welcomed the development of a jobs strategy, and emphasised the importance of continued growth, RMG and other manufacturing, foreign direct investment, female labor market activities, among others.

International Labour Organization (ILO) also presented the findings of the Employment Diagnostic jointly done by ILO and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Prof. Shamsul Alam said the country would do better in facilitating business and investment with the setting up of the planned 100 economic zones across the country when more jobs would also be created.

He said already 10 economic zones started operations, offering a good number of jobs.

Srinivas Raddy underscored the need for skill development and planned expansion of industries for creating decent and sustainable employment opportunities.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman recommended diversifying export-oriented industries to create more jobs beyond apparels sector.

Ahsan H. Mansur suggested reforming education sector so students can get the right education to meet the market demand.

Rajashree Paralkar said effective policies should be taken to stimulate private sector investment, promote education and skills development, and support innovation, urbanization and mobility.

Thomas Farole said to deliver large-scale job creation, Bangladesh must accelerate productivity growth; diversify manufacturing and services sectors, with a focus on increasing exports and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); and facilitate urbanization.

He said connecting vulnerable workers to jobs and reducing barriers to female labor force participation will also be critical for better job opportunities in the private sector.

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