Saturday, July 22, 2017 | ePaper

Demographic dividend calls for better manpower training

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BANGLADESH has more working age people known as demographic dividend since 2007 than bon-working and on experts view this opportunity to accelerate development using the manpower will continue for at least two more decades up to 2040 when this window of opportunity would start to decline. More than 65 percent of our population are  working age now, between 15 and 64 but Bangladesh remains unable to exploit the full potential of our demographic dividend by creating adequate number of jobs. In contrast, the economic growth that is now above 6.5 percent on an average has failed to translate its potentials into job creation for sluggish investment and unfavorable policy. To cash in on the demographic dividend, we must say there is no alternative to huge investment in  human capital development by way of spending more in health and education. 

Our economy is growing steadily but the job creation is the lowest now in two decades. In some estimates only 1.4 million jobs were added to the economy between 2013 and 2015-16 down from 4 million between 2010 and 2013. This is in contrast to some East and South-East Asian countries, which invested, heavily in human capital to achieve higher economic growth rate during their time of demographic dividend. Most of their working age people worked that time unlike most of ours are lying idle without enough jobs. Our problem is that we are pursuing a capital-intensive development policy for big projects that use more resources but don't create more demand for jobs. Development must mean development of more people. 

China, Japan, South Korea and such other countries quickly developed using their demographic dividend and we must keep in mind that we are wasting time without creating appropriate system of education and training for human development. Many suggest that the government must train more workers for local and international market. Leading industrial houses must enter into collaboration with private universities to create the kind of skilled worker and managerial manpower that the industries they are running can hire. Most of them are hiring foreign manpower now; which means they are depriving the locals and failing to use our human capital.  

The problem is that our local university graduates fail to qualify for jobs and there is no alternative to drastic change in our education system that will create skilled manpower and not aimless graduates. We must create manpower suitable to market demand at home and abroad. Bangladesh dream for becoming a higher income country by 2041 essentially depend on how effectively we are going to use our manpower.

Time has surely elapsed, but still not too late to devise plans to educate our younger people as a strong force to accelerate socio-economic development. To get maximum dividends, we suggest there must be enough labour-intensive investment in public and private sector to use the service our working people to accelerate growth.


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