The Financial Express

'Youths need to be groomed with modern tech skills'

| Updated: November 24, 2020 10:27:30

Lankabangla and Fianancial Express Lankabangla and Fianancial Express
File photo used for representational purpose only File photo used for representational purpose only

A panel of experts during a webinar on Saturday called for training the nation's youth with future technology-based skills to handle the post-pandemic economy.

They also called for reskilling the workforce to keep pace with technological shifts in industries past 2025.

The observations were made during the webinar styled 'New Jobs and Skills for Future Business' hosted by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

Financial Institutions Division senior secretary Md Ashadul Islam addressed the event as the chief guest.

National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) executive chairman Dulal Krishna Saha, UNDP Bangladesh resident representative Sudipto Mukerjee, UNIDO country representative Zaki Uz Zaman and ILO Bangladesh country director Tuomo Poutiainen were special guests.

DCCI president Shams Mahmud delivered an address of welcome at the programme while Policy Exchange chairman Dr M Masrur Reaz presented a keynote paper.

Dr Reaz said quality of jobs is more important for Bangladesh as it envisions graduation into an upper middle-income status in near future.

But due to the pandemic, global growth fell to -4.4 per cent in 2020 and 50 per cent of global SMEs are facing challenges to survive in countries like Bangladesh.

Citing BIDS data, the keynoter said about 13 per cent of the total jobs in Bangladesh was lost due to the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

But in the wake of recovering economic activity and a new normal situation, 3.1-million new jobs may be created by 2021, he said on an upbeat note.

To better utilise the window of opportunity, eight must-have skills need to be developed among the workforce, Dr Reaz cited.

Adaptability and flexibility, tech orientation, creativity and innovation, data literacy, critical thinking, digital skills, leadership and emotional intelligence would be the skills required by employers.

The keynote presenter also suggested modernising trade and investment environment, strengthening quality of jobs and improving policies.

Speaking virtually, chief guest Mr Islam said the government has been trying to keep economic activity normal during the pandemic.

Growth without employment generation will not be sustainable, he said, adding that the government is giving priority to right skills with an enabling environment to generate more jobs.

Developing right skills among expatriates will help the country generate more remittance, Mr Islam opined.

"We also have to be prepared for a future technology shift globally to create jobs in changed situations."

DCCI president Mr Mahmud said with a changed global economic and employment situation following the pandemic, new sets of skills will be required by industries all over the world.

With 62.7-per cent working age population, he said, Bangladesh has a demographic dividend to leverage accelerated economic growth.

Citing a World Bank data, Mr Mahmud said an estimated 40-per cent university graduates are unemployed due to skill mismatch.

Despite having a demographic dividend, Bangladesh has a shortage of skilled workforce for local as well as overseas employment.

He said most employers believe critical thinking and problem-solving skills will grow in prominence and 50 per cent of all employees need reskilling by 2025.

Many non-traditional ICT-backed ventures like online startup and freelancing are creating new jobs but they must be backed by 4IR technologies such as IOT, blockchain and cloud computing.

Mr Mahmud suggested reskilling and upskilling the workforce aided by ILO, UNIDO, UNDP, vocational skills, education for low and semi-skilled professionals, regulatory support and easy access to finance.

NSDA chair Mr Saha said non-governmental organisations and the private sector should come forward for skill development programmes in order to develop hard, soft and human skills.

Emphasising vocational and technical training, UNDP's Mr Mukerjee said the nation's youth are very creative and digitally literate enough to make a difference.

To grab the future job market, ILO's Mr Poutiainen said, bold action needs to be taken to generate a skilled workforce.

The private sector needs to work horizontally with the government and other stakeholders, he suggested.

Mr Poutiainen also recognised the need for innovation, entrepreneurship development and conducting business management training courses for small entrepreneurs.

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