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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Post-Covid industry readiness, skills dev needed : Speakers

UNB, Dhaka :
Speakers at a webinar here on Saturday emphasised post-Covid industry readiness and skills development to prevent job loss in the industrial sector of the country.
"In the post-covid period, sustaining existing employment and creating jobs will be a big challenge. To address the situation, we need to modernise curriculum, up-skilling and re-skilling workers utilising 4IR (fourth Industrial revolution), and creating an Inclusive Digital Infrastructure and infrastructure development to grab the opportunity of industry relocation and easier loan access to the SMEs," said DCCI President Shams Mahmud.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) organised the webinar on 'Post-Covid-19 Bangladesh industry readiness: Investment and Skills'.
Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury joined the meeting as the chief guest, while Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Md Sirazul Islam attended as special guest.
The DCCI President said, "Some 20 percent of our total workforce is engaged in the manufacturing industry. But we need a lot of skilled workforce." Shams Mahmud in his welcome address said that due to lack of working capital and squeezed international export market amid the covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh has seen job losses both in SME and informal sector.
"Industry relocation from China opens up a greater opportunity for Bangladesh," he said adding that Bangladesh has the competitive advantage with a demographic dividend of 63.5 million workforces.
Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury said the government has decided to withdraw age barrier for getting technical education considering the return of migrant workers.
"Our universities should focus on creating industry's demand based skilled graduates. 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.
To meet the skill deficit, the National Skill Development Authority (NSDA) is working on skill mapping to identify skill gap, said the Deputy Minister, emphasising quality technical education, structural change of the education system and maximum utilisation of ICT and 4IR.
Additional Secretary of the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry Shahidul Alam said some 2.2 million people join the mainstream workforce every year. Of them, about 0.8 million people go abroad for overseas jobs. "But due to the Covid pandemic, few of our expat workers may lose jobs and may return to Bangladesh though the total number of the returnees would not be alarming," he said.
Noting that the government has allocated Tk 700 core to facilitate the rehabilitation of the migrant returnees, he said operating demand-driven trainings for skill development will play a key role for rehabilitating jobless workers.
Shahidul Alam put emphasis on Industry-academia collaboration for creating demand-driven skilled manpower.
Director (Training) of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) Dr Engineer Md Sakawat Ali said BMET will provide training to the skilled migrant returnees through its 70 training institutes to help them convert into entrepreneurs. Based on their occupational capability, a database will be made, he said.
"Those who are less skilled among the migrant returnees will also be provided training so that they can find a suitable job again in the international market," said Sakawat Ali.
Shaquib Quoreshi of Business Intelligence Limited in his keynote paper said creating sufficient employment opportunities will be a big challenge in the country. "Now is the time to emphasise the technical and vocational education system."
Managing Director of the Computers Ltd Kh Atique-e-Rabbani said job loss in this crisis will push many unemployed to become one-man-entrepreneurs and preparation is needed to facilitate them with proper training and credit support.
Member of National Skill Development Authority (NSDA) Md Abdur Razzaque informed that the NSDA is working on skill mapping to identify skill deficit.
The BIDA Executive Chairman said the country's industry is expanding at a faster pace, but soft managerial skills don't develop keeping the pace. "To remove the skill gap, we need to give emphasis on communication, technical and language skills of our workers," he said.
In case of attracting the industries to be relocated, Bangladesh has to compete with other countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Japan. So, it is important for Bangladesh to facilitate the relocated industries, maintaining a good communication and improving in ease of doing business, said Sirazul Islam.
He said BIDA started one stop service center to provide faster, transparent and cheaper services to the private sector.
BPCCI President Akber Hakim, DCCI Vice President Mohammad Bashiruddin and Chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange Limited Asif Ibrahim, among others spoke on the occasion, said a press release.