The rise in using labour-saving technologies in apparel factories is likely to take over around 10 lakh jobs in the country by 2025 – the closing year of the eighth Five Year Plan (8FYP).
So, the government must begin taking measures for job creation in other potential sectors such as jute, footwear and leather goods, agro-processing, plastics and light engineering, according to the draft 8th Plan.
Adopting necessary policy reforms for invigorating the process of export diversification is also needed.
Women are far more likely than men to be retrenched from their jobs owing to automation. Therefore, a more forceful skill-development policy directed towards women with adequate investment in technical, vocational and other training options is required, the draft 8FYP says.
Speaking at a virtual consultation meeting on the sector-based chapters of the 8th Plan on Wednesday, Dr Shamsul Alam, member of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission, said technology-based education will get importance in the government's new plan to make youths competent to survive in the competitive job market tackling challenges of automation.
Besides, SME and service sectors will also be prioritised as alternative sources of employment for a big number who will lose employment opportunities, he pointed out.
According to an analysis by the International Labour Organisation and the government's Access to Information (a2i) programme, 60% or 27 lakh of garment workers in Bangladesh will lose jobs by 2041 and will be replaced by robots because of the automation brought about by factory owners.
Around 55% or 14 lakh workers in the furniture sector and 40% or 10 lakh in agro-processing will lose jobs under the impact of automation by that time.
Moreover, the automation will also erode 35% or 4 lakh jobs in the leather industry and 20% or 4 lakh in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Dr Shamsul Alam said, "Our exports heavily depend on apparel products. Now, we have to go for product diversification and increase productivity through automation. In this way, productivity will go up, but new employment opportunities will fall."
So, it is essential to create job opportunities for newcomers in other potential sectors, he added.
Keeping new job creation at the forefront, the government prioritised further development of cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises in the 8FYP, he said.
In the same way, the service sector also has a preference for taking its contribution to employment to 75% from the existing 70%, Shamsul mentioned.
While addressing the event, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said they have attached a special importance to manufacturing and service sectors in the 8FYP to develop an industry-based economy and create new jobs too.
The government has already introduced industry-friendly laws, policies and tax regime, resulting in a constant rise in the industrial sector's contribution to the economy, he added.
Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said, "We have to put more emphasis on creating new entrepreneurs, which will reduce risk of job reduction."