The use of technology has intensified in Bangladesh over the past few months. From March, internet use has surged by 50 percent, according to the State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak; and a contributing factor must have been e-commerce.
Banking and education are two other sectors going in the same direction. Trained IT professionals are required to maintain an elaborate backbone of applications, hardware, network, and software. Other sectors of the country also need to keep pace as well. Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 is the embodiment of this progression.
This article explores the possibilities to what extent are IT professionals and users able to continually upgrade their skills as a World Bank blog stated last year with reference to Bangladesh that whole professions of the country are now being automated.
With the spurt in demand does Bangladesh has the capacity to train thousands of people in all facets of ICT? Fortunately, IT training institutes have sprouted all over the country with the better ones concentrated in Dhaka.
It is a truism that the younger generation can absorb IT skills much faster. In this regard, Habibullah Karim, the CEO of Technohaven and a BASIS (Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services) stalwart, said, "Rather than imparting programming courses at the school level, the government should emphasise general digital literacy and let students make choices later on."
Additionally, many educated people are keen to upgrade their knowledge and skills and taking requisite steps.
Cost is an important factor for a poor country. Overall, the fees seem reasonable across the spectrum. Under the Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP), a government initiative, some institutes have even offered free courses as a social responsibility.
For quality, are instructors able to tweak existing courses and deliver new ones in a fast-changing technological landscape? How many courses are of a fundamental nature facilitating deep learning? Or, are they merely application oriented?
Students who have just come out of college education and intent on building a career in IT have the option to enroll in computer science and engineering (CSE) courses offered by different universities.
Mid-career executives who wish to sharpen specific skills can opt for institutes like Bangladesh Korea Institute of Information and Communication Technology (BKIICT), an initiative of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), set up in 2005 with Korean assistance. The institute offers both short and long courses.
Bangladesh Institute of Technology and Management (BITM), an initiative of BASIS, is another institute which provides almost similar courses. Whereas the BKIICT is geared towards IT professionals, BITM provides courses mostly for freelancers and others.
Training in IT sector is handled differently by different organisations. According to Mainuddin Chowdhury, additional managing director of Shahjalal Islami Bank, the bank prefers in-house trainings. He said English language skill is a limitation for many when it comes to those taking international online courses.
IDLC, a prominent non-banking financial institution, carries out a needs analysis. Akhteruddin Mahmood, head of Human Resource department of the institution, said IDLC assembles a pool of in-house experts to impart specific IT training. At present, IDLC is offering different training programmes via Zoom.
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the company arranged foreign trainings on a selective basis with personality development one of the objectives. Akhteruddin Mahmood lamented the absence of institutes in Bangladesh that provide cutting-edge courses. This is borne out by the fact that there is a preponderance of institutes like Coders Trust, Repto etc. geared towards applications attractive to freelancers.
A downside of the shutdown of educational institutes is that students cannot access labs, an important part of their learning.
There does not seem to be a dearth of instructors. Habibullah Karim said that for the serious learner there is no dearth of choice either considering the array of courses available locally and internationally. He opined that circumstances are forcing professionals, executives and freelancers to pick up the skills.
The Author is a retired bank officer.