As businesses worldwide are trying to remain functional throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, most of them are repairing the impact on their businesses, rethinking the new normal scenario and reconfiguring their business strategies to survive and thrive in the coming years.
Most sectors have experienced a significant shift in their revenue-generation methods. The revenue stream from digital ways of doing business has increased manifold in most sectors.
At the same time, there has been a visible shift in the workforce mindset as well.
Throughout 2020, the voluntary movement of workers from one employer to another was largely limited to a very low number. However, within a year since the pandemic surfaced, the rate of employees leaving their present employment has increased significantly.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, four million workers quit their jobs in July 2021.
As per the data, the rate of resignations has remained very high at this level for several months now as more new jobs are created every month. Many have termed this phenomenon as the Great Resignation.
There could be multiple reasons as to why so many employees are resigning. One of the most prominent reasons is the accelerated business transformation undertaken by many organisations which require more skilled and experienced people who can drive the transformation agenda rapidly and successfully.
For emerging countries like Bangladesh, such transformations could be a great opportunity to utilise.
The void created in developed countries due to the limited number of skilled workers ready for the digital era must be filled by foreign workers. The work can be performed through digital platforms like an offshore service delivery centre or deployment of workers in respective work locations.
The workforce in India has already started feeling this change through more lucrative job offers from competing IT or technology companies.
While this is a short-term opportunity to grab, the talent pool may not have the requisite depth of skills and size to scale. This makes forward planning with regards to skill-building very important so that the global opportunities can be addressed as soon as they arise.
Apart from that, the landscape of job descriptions is changing rapidly due to the accelerated transformation of organisations, even in Bangladesh.
Future jobs will require workers to continuously upskill themselves.
As per a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, 85 million jobs will be displaced in the developed and advanced economies by 2025 due to a higher degree of technology-led automation of tasks.
At the same time, 97 million new jobs will be created to perform tasks that will require new skills. As a result, most workers today need to upskill themselves to remain employed in the same position by 2025.
While such numbers are expected to be different for emerging nations, the trend will remain the same. Even in emerging economies, many existing jobs will get displaced due to rapid digital transformation and more new jobs will get created that will require new skills, mostly digital.
While employers have a significant role to play in upskilling their existing workforce, private organisations alone cannot sustain this massive upskilling requirement.
Private organisations will have to collaborate amongst themselves and develop an innovative fund-pooling method to upskill their workers with common upskilling needs. The Government will also have a significant role to play in this endeavour, particularly in getting the young workforce ready for the jobs of the future.
The National Skills Development Authority of Bangladesh has been working as the apex body to formulate a national-level upskilling policy and to execute programmes to achieve its vision.
The policy outlines the objective, scope of work, and evaluation and monitoring methods. Its successful implementation would help the country's workforce to get ready for jobs of the future.
It is important to understand the needs of the existing workforce and upskill them through both organisational and community-based initiatives.
As per a report published in May 2019 by the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a Dhaka-based think tank, there are 3,856 operational apparel manufacturing factories in Bangladesh, employing about 3.6 million workers.
As per the study, approximately 21% of these enterprises in the apparel manufacturing sector are using advanced technologies. With the competitive landscape changing rapidly, these companies are also working towards the digitalisation of their business. Thus, upskilling their existing workforce is increasingly becoming an immediate need.
An upskilling revolution is imminent to address this situation sustainably. Under the aegis of the apex body, both Government and private organisations have to form a platform for collaborating and planning for upskilling.
Both employees and employers need to develop the awareness that learning and upskilling are going to be lifelong activities for all of them.
At the same time, this platform should enable them to plan their upskilling journey. While employers will be able to anticipate and communicate the skills they are going to need in future, employees should be able to plan their self-learning and supervised learning aligning with the demand of future jobs.
The platform should support innovative funding models so that private organisations can contribute equitably and profitably, and the Government should also get reliable projections for budgeting various upskilling programmes. The platform should also support credible certification programmes to help the learners acquire credentials that they can gainfully leverage for their next job search.
Given the several underlying interdependencies, the entire upskilling revolution may seem highly complex. It is important that Government bodies and private organisations work together to make upskilling a successful journey towards building a digital society.