A sufficient number of skilled workers is a must for the development of any country's economy, but Bangladesh is way behind in this.
A study by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) revealed that foreigners are holding most of the positions for skilled employees. This means that a lot of foreign exchange is going out of the country.
The government trying to improve the quality of education at the tertiary level with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to make-up the lack of skilled local workers.
The ADB will give $740 million to the government as a loan for five projects in the next three years for this purpose.
These projects will target tertiary-level education in the fields of garments and textiles,computer and software engineering, and advanced agriculture.
The BIDS study found that the ready-made garments industry in Bangladesh is facing a shortage of more than 1.20 lakh skilled workers.
The study projected a demand for 3.66 million skilled workers in the industry in 2021, while the government and the private sector of the country have the capacity to provide technical and vocational education to only 0.48 million.
The study revealed that a large number of Bangladeshi graduates are unemployed because of a lack of necessary skills.
An ADB study found that about 80 percent of job seekers in the information and communications technology field fail in written tests because of a lack of basic coding skills.
Therefore, the ADB will provide $1.29 billion as loans to Bangladesh for eight projects to strengthen human capital development through social sector projects and programmes in the next three years, while $1.19 billion of the amount will be allocated for skills development and education.
A source at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said a high-level ADB delegation under the 'Human and Social Development Sector Portfolio Review Mission' will visit Bangladesh next week to hold meetings with government officials from 9-12 December.
The meetings will discuss the preparation and update of projects in the pipeline for approval, and will review all ongoing projects in the human and social development sector that are being implemented with financial and technical support from the ADB.
A recent letter from the ADB to the Economic Relations Division said the main focus of the agency's social assistance programme is gradually shifting towards providing quality education, skill training and urban primary healthcare.
The source at the ERD said the government will sign a loan agreement worth $100 million with the ADB to improve computer and software engineering tertiary education next year.
Another agreement will be signed in 2020 to implement the 'Digital University Development Project' worth $190 million.
The ADB will sign two agreements with the government worth $450 million in 2021, one for the 'Innovations in Tertiary Education for Competitiveness (Advanced Agriculture) Project' worth $150 million, and another for 'Second Skills for Employment Project' worth $300 million.
The bank will also sign an agreement worth $100 million to implement the 'Innovations in Tertiary Education for Competitiveness (Garment and Textile) Project' in 2022.
In 2022, the ADB will also sign four agreements worth $550 million to implement several projects for the human development sector of Bangladesh.
The bank will sign a loan agreement worth $150 million for the 'Support for Healthcare Improvement Project', $100 million to implement the 'Education for Children with Special Needs Project', and $200 million for the 'Technical Education Modernisation Project'.
The ADB sources said the development agency is providing a total of $1.42 billion for the education and healthcare sector of Bangladesh, which is about 14 percent of the total support by the agency in the country.
The development agency is providing support for primary and secondary education, skills development and urban healthcare services in Bangladesh.
An ADB press release said, "The ADB has recently prepared a new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for 2020-2022, which programs around $5 billion in firm projects. Projects worth another $4.9 billion have been included in the pipeline as 'standby'."
The COBP aligns with the government's Seventh Five-Year Plan and the ADB's Strategy 2030, and supports the implementation of the sustainable development goals targets. It is also aligned with the government's new manifesto which highlights the priorities and sets the stage for the next 5-year plan.