The fourth industrial revolution, for a developing country like Bangladesh, is a matter of life and death. Like many emerging nations, Bangladesh fell short capitalising off earlier industrial revolutions.
Missing the current opportunity would be equivalent to living in the prehistoric era compared with countries who would take advantage of Industry 4.0. So, in this high stake game, Bangladeshi students must prepare for the future.
When it comes to choosing professions or jobs, probably the larger portion would choose and prepare themselves for government jobs.
While the socio-economic context makes government jobs the best option, civil service is outside the purview of this article's subject matter as we are dealing with jobs related to the fourth industrial revolution.
The Business Standard reached out to CEOs from various sectors to reflect on what role or position will have prominence in the decades to come. We specifically asked to pick one position they consider to have the most prospect and why these jobs will be important.
Business and Product Development, Pharmaceutical industry
Over the last ten years or so, price-competition in the generics industry has intensified worldwide.
For many companies, especially the smaller ones, return on investment is no longer particularly attractive. Moreover, niche opportunities, which were once the mainstay of smaller companies, are now being targeted by even the largest of generics behemoths.
In this regard, Kaiser Kabir, CEO of pharmaceutical company Renata Limited, said, "In the future, specialty molecules, which permit some degree of product differentiation (and therefore less price competition) is likely to be the key thrust of corporate growth strategies. Therefore, a job designation that integrates business and product development is likely to gain prominence."
This position demands a high-degree of scientific knowledge for two reasons - identifying molecules suitable for redesign on the basis of scientific reasoning and developing products on the basis of identified opportunities.
In order to prepare for this position, students should have a thorough knowledge in both biological and chemical sciences.
At present, our universities do not offer multidisciplinary degrees in the advanced sciences. Yet, such an approach develops essential skills needed to think seamlessly between the two disciplines.
Moreover, in today's world, learning does not stop after graduation.
Those who wish to succeed in the pharmaceutical industry must have the capacity to self-inculcate the latest developments in a wide variety of areas such as immunology, genomics, drug delivery, pharmacology, and so on.
Data Analyst, Corporate sector
For a developing economy, marketing and sales will always be important. Sales - either in person or digital – will be crucial. We need more people in digital marketing; reaching the target audience on social media through content. One other thing is supply chain management.
However, this new era has thrust us into new options in the corporate sector. While these traditional roles of marketing, sales, and supply chain management will remain as important as these are today, big data analysis, in the corporate sector, is seeing rising demand.
"Big data analysts will have a huge impact. Professionals related to these technologies will remain in high demand globally, and in Bangladesh, the demand will gradually rise," said Rupali Chowdhury, Managing Director of Berger Paints Bangladesh.
"Digital industries will face a lot of challenges to handle their data and thus, data analytics will play a big role behind making decisions easily, and implementing changes based on data. That is why such roles are very important in the corporate sector."
She added, "they must have a strong foundation in computer science. Internet of things (IoT) and integration of business and technology is important."
Industrial Engineering, Readymade Garments
Production cost, in the RMG sector, is rising rapidly. Cost of labour, raw materials, and supply chain - all are on the rise. However, due to high competition in this sector, garment factories cannot hike prices.
Bangladesh's RMG is mostly dependent on cheap labour which is our main advantage. But labour will not be cheap anymore in the future.
In this situation, a position that can ensure most efficient output within an garments factory will be most important, said Shovon Islam, Mangaging Director of Sparrow Group.
"This job holder will be responsible for efficiency, by making sure that the men-to-machine ratio is proper and operators are working to their best capabilities. Whoever does this exact job is said to be an industrial engineer (IE)," said Shovon.
Most of the big factories in Bangladesh have industrial engineers but, for most factories, this is not the case.
Be that as it may, ultimately, IE will be the most demanding position in the garment sector. In fact, we have a tremendous shortage of well trained IEs. In many cases, we have to depend on Indian and Sri Lankan nationals.
"I think if someone focuses on this position, that will pay off in the future. I hope Bangladeshi IEs can fill up the positions."
Robotics Process Automation, Information Technology
The way technology is moving forward, it is not easy to predict which job in the IT sector will be prominent.
However, according to Ershadul Haque, CEO of prominent IT institution Riseup Labs, robotic process automation (RPA) will be in high demand.
"All the industries are focusing on automation and digital transformation. They are trying to automate their process using technologies to increase productivity and revenue," said Ershadul.
According to him, students should select a technology, participate in different trainings, practice hands-on, get help from experts, stay updated with the global changes, stay focused on that technology and study different cases related to the technology, in order to be prepared to serve the global demand in the next five to 10 years.
Product Design and Facilitation, Agriculture
Diptha Saha, founder and CEO of e-Khamar, an agro-based startup, broke down Bangladesh's agri sector into four quadrants - input (seed, fertiliser, medicine, supplement, machinery); advisory (agricultural extension services, veterinary support, an so on); finance (credit, loans, futures contract); and market linkage (selling the harvest in time at a reasonable price).
In this context, he said that product designer and facilitator positions will be important.
"The sector needs new ideas and innovations to disrupt unpredictability and manual dependence on farming. As the manufacturing industry will boom, the demand for product designers will increase. Moreover, farmers are mostly offline and services will be accessible online in upcoming days. To bridge this gap, we will be in need of facilitators in these sectors."
Students of agriculture will require more technological knowledge to operate software and hardware. But professionals also need to learn the market and consumer behaviour. No farmer is going to pay for fancy technology or bookish advisory.