Business leaders and experts on Saturday recommended that the government should introduce a modernised education curriculum in line with industry demands to mitigate the post-COVID challenges of creating employment.
At a webinar on ‘Post-Covid-19 Bangladesh industry readiness: investment and skills’ organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they said that creating sufficient employment opportunities would be a big challenge for Bangladesh and it was now time to put greater emphasis on technical and vocational education systems.
At least 20 per cent of the country’s total workforce is engaged in the manufacturing sector and the industry needs even more skilled workers, DCCI president Shams Mahmud said.
Sustaining the existing jobs and creating more employment will be a big challenge in the post-COVID period, he added.
Under the circumstances, the government should modernise the curriculum by up-skilling and re-skilling workers utilising the 4th Industrial Revolution, creating an inclusive digital infrastructure, developing infrastructures to seize the opportunities of industry relocations and facilitate easier loan access for small and medium enterprises, he said.
The DCCI president said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country had experienced slower growth in exports, including in the readymade garment sector.
The country also witnessed job losses both in the SME and informal sectors due to lack of working capital and the squeeze on the international export market, Shams said.
‘Industry relocation from China opens up greater opportunities for Bangladesh,’ he hoped, saying that the country had competitive advantage with a demographic dividend of 63.5 million workers.
Business Intelligence Limited enterpriser Shaquib Quoreshi, in his keynote paper, said that business closures in the Middle East, Western Europe and the ASEAN regions amid the COVID19 pandemic would result in a sudden increase in the return of migrant workers.
‘Creating sufficient employment opportunities will be a big challenge for us. Moreover, we need to think that to attract relocated industries to Bangladesh, we have to compete with other countries. Now is the time to focus on technical and vocational education systems,’ he said.
Computers Limited managing director Atique-e-Rabbani said that the country needed to change its strategy as the pandemic had created an environment where businesses needed to be digitised and less peoplecentric.
‘Job loss in this crisis will push many of those unemployed to become one-man entrepreneurs and we need to be prepared to facilitate them with proper training and credit support,’ he said.
Deputy education minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury said that considering the return of the migrant workers, the government had decided to lift the age limit for technical education programmes in Bangladesh.
‘About 2.8 million students are being enrolled in our colleges under the National University. But we need to modernise our education curriculum as per the requirements of the industry,’ he said.
The deputy minister emphasised quality technical education, structural change in the education system and maximum utilisation of information communication technology and 4 IR.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training director Md Sakawat Ali said that training would be provided to the returning skilled migrants to help them turn into entrepreneurs through the 70 training institutes of BMET.
Expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry additional secretary Md Shahidul Alam said that industry-academia collaboration could be helpful in creating demand-driven skilled manpower.
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