The collaboration between industry and academia needs to be intensified to meet the growing demand for skilled workforces, especially in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), stakeholders said at the launching ceremony of the "Graduate Employment in Private Sector" programme on Sunday at a city hotel.
The programme was initiated by the FutureNation, a new coalition of the government, private and development sectors to create sustainable economic opportunities for graduate youth through decent employment, to facilitate a skilled workforce required for the industry and to reduce the unemployment ratio of graduate youth groups.
The FutureNation envisions enabling Economic Opportunities for All in Bangladesh by 2041 and it being patronised by Grameenphone, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority.
"During my tenure in BIDA in the last three years, I found that the industries are suffering from [shortage] of skilled people, particularly in the mid-level and managerial positions. We are allowing the foreigners to come in Bangladesh and work in the industry," Md Sirazul Islam, executive chairman, BIDA, said as the chair at the inaugural session
"Bida initially provides a work permit for five years. At the end of their tenure, the employers apply to extend their tenure. But this should not be allowed to go for long. We need to have our own people skilled enough to run our own industry," he added.
He mentioned that one of the skills that is needed is communication - particularly efficiency in the English language.
"The very recent census says that one-fourth of our national youth are between 15-29-years-old. It also said that the graduates are struggling for unemployment," said Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone.
On one hand, we are struggling to get the right skills and the right resources; on the other hand, 33% of our graduates are unemployed, he said, adding that it is extremely important to have Artificial Intelligence, robotics, cyber security and basic ICT skills.
As the chief guest, Salman F Rahman, private industry and investment adviser to the Prime Minister, said, "The traditional workplace environment, the requirements and the sectors are changing. More and more virtual work is taking over physical work especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So in that case, it needs to be done to up skill and reskill workers.
"We are talking about smart Bangladesh and the 4IR. We also have to prepare our new generations to meet those challenges," he added, hoping that the new programmes under the FutureNation will help to achieve the goal.
Talking about various government initiatives, he said the quality of skill-generating courses needed to be regulated by the National Skills Development Authority.
He mentioned that coding is going to be introduced in the primary curriculum very soon.
Rashed ur Rahaman, executive director, Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship Centre, Dhaka University, said, "We need a roadmap after Covid-19 to remove skill gaps."
The organisers said the "Graduate Employment in Private Sector Program" aims to enable aspiring graduates through assessment and instilling the right skill set for ensuring decent employment in the corporate sector and industries.
Along with helping to assess the potential candidates, the program will also provide the candidates with basic training in digital and financial literacy, communication, business appreciation etc. so that they can perform better in their jobs.
FututreNation has targeted to train one million people, including returnee migrants.
Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor, UNDP said the target should not be only training, but also to employ the people.
Among others, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT; Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, Managing Director, Bangladesh High-tech Park Authority; Mohsina Yasmin, Executive Member, BIDA; Javed Akhtar, Managing Director, Unilever Bangladesh; Russel T Ahmed, Chairman, BASIS; Hakon Bruaset Kjol, Investment Director, Malco, Telenor; Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP; Nazneen Ahmed, Country Economist, UNDP Bangladesh spoke while Radwan Mujib Siddiq Bobby, Strategic Advisor, UNDP sent a video message.