A recent study conducted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) revealed that only 14 per cent of the annual development programme (ADP) of the proposed budget was directly youth-focused.
The study also found that the Ministry of Planning, and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication had the least focus on youth; 5.0 per cent and almost zero per cent respectively.
The experts participated in a webinar styled ‘The National Budget FY 2021-22 from Youth Perspective’ – organized jointly by SANEM and Action Aid, recommended that the government policies should address the constraints of youth development to realise the demographic dividend, whose opportunity might get limited by 2040.
The research paper noted 60 per cent of the ADP, fixed for 22 ministries, was non-youth-focused, while only 14 per cent was directly targeted at them.
The youth could get indirect help from 26 per cent of the ADP of the ministries.
The study also said only 44 per cent of the youth population of working age were in the labour market even in the pre-pandemic period.
On the other hand, 29.8 per cent of the total youth population were NEET (Not in Education, Employment, and Training). Among the 21-29 years olds, the rate of NEET was around 36 per cent.
The study pointed out that the youth unemployment rate was 10.6 per cent, which was much higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, 89 per cent of the total employed youth were engaged in informal sectors. Female labour force participation rate was stagnant at around 36 per cent.
The report noted that the pandemic-induced crisis largely affected education, employment and income, health, poverty and social safety net as well as caused a surge in gender-based violence.
The study also revealed that at national level, only 22 per cent participated regularly in online classes. In the pre-Covid period, the families of 8.4 million students were below the poverty line.
The SANEM report said with 25 per cent income shock, additional 19 per cent families of the university students would be newly poor.
Furthermore, some 57.7 per cent of the youngsters never availed any digital device for educational purposes.
Some 79.7 per cent of the self-employed youths reported decline in profit during the pandemic, and 57.4 per cent of the wage-employed reported decline in their wages, noted the SANEM study.
It suggested the government’s realisation of ‘policy framework’ for apprenticeship, and opined that the youths involved in informal sectors should be given unemployment benefit.
SANEM also recommended the removal of tax on private educational institutes as well as adopting a participatory approach of intersectional youths in the policymaking process.