In a country where two million join the workforce every year, the lack of employment opportunities is leaving the youth of the country frustrated and depressed
A graduate of Computer Science Engineering from Daffodil International University, Sourav had been looking for a decent job for the last six months.
Finally, he received an appointment letter from Augmedix, a company which provides medical documentation services – asking him to start working from March.
However, due to the pandemic, his onboarding was put on hold and he was asked to wait till August.
With no other option, Sourav has decided to start preparing for government jobs.
It is not just Sourav, many others like him are spending their days in despair as job opportunities have shrunk.
Moreover, competition in the market has increased as many organisations have opted for lay-offs and pay cuts.
Between March 31 and April 5 of this year, the Advocacy for Social Change Programme of Brac carried out a survey on 2,675 people from low-income backgrounds.
72 percent of respondents reported job losses or reduced work opportunities due to the shutdown. Eight percent of respondents who are employed did not receive their payments.
Even before the pandemic, unemployment was a problem all over the world.
According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2019, there were 267 million young unemployed people worldwide.
The number could very well increase this year as job opportunities have become restricted.
The job sector in Bangladesh is especially suffering since two million people join workforce every year and the overall population fit for working is currently around 60 million.
The situation has become difficult for both private and public job applicants.
Government jobs in Bangladesh are competitive and require intense preparation. The questions are mostly based on high school syllabus and general knowledge. It takes time to fully grasp the method.
Not only that, from passing the written test and interview till joining of office, it sometimes takes two to three years.
But age restriction means candidates cannot keep trying for years.
This correspondent spoke with Raihan Hasan who left his job in a private firm to concentrate on applying for government jobs.
He wanted job security, but now, he is somewhat regretting his decision.
He studied for one and half year targeting this year's BCS examination. But the examination schedule has become uncertain.
"If the situation continues for two more years, I will lose my age to qualify for BCS. Also, by that time, there will be more candidates sitting for the examination. In addition, my chances of getting a private job will be slimmer because of my long break from work," a frustrated Raihan said.
A recent report by Asian Development Bank (ADB) revealed that the number of job advertisements dropped sharply from third week of March.
ILO has also warned that the situation appears to be worse for women.
Since she was a first-year student, Naila Ahmed Samapti had been working as a private tutor to contribute to her family's expenses.
The financial problems became acute after her father's retirement. While she was a Masters student, she began to look for jobs. She was confident that she would get something appropriate.
Although she managed to get calls from some organisations, the coronavirus outbreak stalled her Masters examination and her job opportunities.
Naila lives in Rajshahi and even if there are any jobs in Dhaka, there is no way she can go there now.
She tried to remain positive, but she broke down when she lost her private tuitions.
Not being able to do anything, Naila feels like a failure and has sunk into a depression.
The Brac study further showed that before the pandemic, the average household income of the 2,675 respondents was Tk14,599 and during March 2020, their average income was Tk3,742 – an average 75 percent decline from their last month's income.
Respondents in Chattogram, Rangpur and Sylhet divisions reported a higher decline in income.
Fahim Mashroor, CEO of Bdjobs.com, acknowledged the on-going situation in the job market.
He said, "Job advertisements have declined. There is almost no work especially for those who are fresh in the job market. Most companies are now looking for senior or skilled employees".
He suggested, "If they are offered a job, freshers should look into it and maybe accept it even if it is does not fulfil all of their expectations. Finding traditional or decent jobs might be a little difficult at the moment."
"The government can provide incentive and policy support (such as tax benefits) to industries so that they can employ large number of people," he added.