The High Court Division of the Supreme Court has selected about 10,000 applicants for viva voce against 621 posts of lower subordinate staff (MLSS). At least 80% of the candidates are university graduates, although the 17th-grade job requires a minimum qualification of SSC, sources said.
Surprisingly, this is not a unique case. The picture of other government offices is almost the same.
Stakeholders said even though government agencies allow Secondary School Certificate (SSC) holders for 16th-grade jobs and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) holders for 14th-grade jobs, the number of graduates applying for these posts is increasing day by day.
This points to the problem of jobs in the country, they added.
Speaking to The Business Standard, many job aspirants said they have to apply for low-level jobs because of scarce employment opportunities in the country. Some others said an ever-increasing number of graduates are getting attracted to even low-level government jobs for reasons of job security and relatively much higher pay than before.
All the 37 people who joined the Supreme Court as office assistants in 2015 were post-graduates from different reputed public and private universities in the country.
One of them is Kamrul Hasan (not his real name) from Barishal. He got admitted to Dhaka University in the hope of becoming a knowledgeable and skilled individual, and always dreamt of getting a first class government job or a job in a reputed private company with a good position so that he could lead a life with "solvency and prestige".
But after repeated failure in his attempts to get his dream jobs, a depressed Kamrul finally joined the Supreme Court as an office assistant.
"It is my bad luck that I have been serving as an office assistant even after completing graduation. I acknowledge that I could not make myself qualified for other competitive jobs, but at the same time, the state cannot deny its failure as it could not arrange jobs as per our skills," Kamrul told TBS.
On 16 November this year, 16 data entry operators joined the Education Engineering Department. All of them are graduates from different reputed public and private universities.
One of them, a graduate from Jagannath University, told TBS that he had exceeded the maximum age limit to apply for government jobs and that he would not get any government job had he not joined here.
"I can go for private jobs but those jobs are uncertain. It is true some people are in good positions in private jobs, but the majority of private job-holders suffer from job insecurity and are ill-paid. Considering all this, I decided to join this 16-grade job," he said.
Md Asaduzzaman, deputy director (Administration) of the Education Engineering Department, told TBS that the department hired 427 employees in November, mostly in 16th-grade positions, and at least 85% of them have post-graduate degrees.
"Job scarcity is severe now as 6.5 lakh individuals applied for 427 jobs. I had never experienced such a situation before," he said.
Waste of public money!
The high rate of university graduates joining low-skill jobs, however, denies the nation the services it deserves from these people and the heavy investment that the state makes for their education gets mostly wasted, said stakeholders, among whom are top officials of the government.
The government spends Tk1.5 lakh on average for the higher studies of a student in the country, sources said, adding that at present, around 38 lakh students are studying at 40 public universities, including National University.
Professor Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem), said the higher educational institutions usually produce graduates for highly productive jobs. But, unfortunately, the rate of unemployment is higher among Bangladeshi graduates.
The government should take immediate initiatives to expand the job market for graduates, he suggested, adding, "At the same time, the universities must concentrate on developing quality graduates who will be fit for top-level jobs."
Scarce govt jobs, graduates galore
Sources at the Bangladesh Civil Service Commission said some 2,21,575 candidates took part in the 34th BCS examinations against 2,052 posts in 2013. Just seven years later, the number of applicants rose to 4,75,000 – the highest in the history of BCS exams, they added.
According to the public administration ministry, there are 19.13 lakh government posts in Bangladesh – of them, 2.39 lakh are first class posts, 2.10 lakh second class, 11.9 lakh third class, and 3.53 lakh fourth class.
At present, 3.58 lakh posts are vacant.
But more than 8 lakh university students complete their graduation each year across the country.
The unemployment rate among people with tertiary levels of education has risen considerably, as revealed by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2018.
About 46% of the country's unemployed youths are university graduates.
The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies found that as of 2017, about 66% of graduates remain unemployed, including those who have completed honours courses and postgraduate courses from 2,154 public and private colleges affiliated with National University.
Private sector also in bad shape
Job opportunities in the private sector are also in a bad shape, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, said insiders, adding that the Russia-Ukraine war has only worsened the situation.
All the sectors, including the readymade garment industry, ICT, food, and cables, have started to lay off their employees and stopped appointing new manpower.
Md Kawser Ahmed, who graduated from a reputed private university, told TBS that he completed his graduation in information and technology in 2019. Since then, he has been trying to get a good job in the private sector, but in vain.
"Big companies have stopped hiring people to top positions. They sometimes offer low-level jobs. Medium-sized and small companies, on the other hand, offer jobs with very low salaries. Therefore, I am waiting for a good job."