DHAKA, June 5, 2017 — Despite Bangladesh’s robust economic growth, the pace of job creation has slowed in the recent years, says a new World Bank analysis discussed today at a high-level workshop. The country needs to proactively address the challenge, starting with the development of a National Jobs Strategy to increase the pace of formal job creation, raise the quality of jobs, and connect vulnerable workers to jobs.
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. Bangladesh now needs to focus on creating more and higher quality jobs in export oriented non-RMG sectors.
At the workshop, the participants discussed policy priorities to be considered in a Jobs Strategy for Bangladesh, based on the findings of the Jobs Diagnostic. The Jobs Diagnostic, conducted jointly by the World Bank and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), highlights the importance of looking into the jobs agenda in a holistic way.
“Addressing jobs requires policies that establish the macro and microeconomic frameworks to stimulate private sector investment, promote education and skills development, and support innovation, urbanization and mobility,” said Rajashree Paralkar, Acting Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal of the World Bank. “We look forward to the development of a National Jobs Strategy - a comprehensive set of coordinated policy actions that are targeted explicitly toward addressing the jobs priorities.”
The country also needs to generate quality jobs and address gender disparities. Only 1 in 5 workers are employed in wage work. Further, 1 in 3 working women, as opposed to 5 percent of working men, are engaged in unpaid work. International migration has been a way for many Bangladeshis to seek better paying jobs in spite of costs and risks to worker safety.
“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,” said Thomas Farole, the lead author of the World Bank Jobs Diagnostic. “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.”
The panelists welcomed the development of a jobs strategy, and emphasized 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. Dr. Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary, Member, General Economic Division, Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning chaired the workshop, jointly organized by the World Bank and the ILO and co-hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Labour and Employment,
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed nearly $26 billion in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.