• Monday, Dec 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Experts: Update education based on the demands of the job market

  • Published at 12:25 pm September 5th, 2021
File photo of Public university libraries now a hub for job-seekers Dhaka Tribune

Foreigners working in Bangladesh remit some $5 billion out of the country every year

Business leaders, educators and policy-makers have emphasized market-oriented educational curriculums to groom the younger generation who are entering the job market.

Lamenting high unemployment among the educated youth in Bangladesh, they said that a job-market-oriented education system can improve the situation.

A lack of fully trained local labor force has brought in many expat workers in higher positions. Foreigners working in Bangladesh remit some $5 billion out of the country every year.

In Bangladesh at least 100,000 Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, South Koreans and Thais are working in different capacities across commercial and industrial sectors.

Foreigners are working in large numbers in RMG, textile, power, construction and consultancy sectors, as the local educated youths cannot meet the special requirements of these industries.

President of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries Anwarul Islam Parvez, in a recent meeting with top policymakers of the country, said that the government would outline short, medium, and long-term strategies to create new jobs as some 2 million young people enter the job market every year.

As only a few thousand jobs are created in the government, the private sector needs to create new job opportunities to absorb the others, said Parvez, also a leading readymade garment exporter of the country.

The private sector, the engine of the economy, is generating thousands of jobs every year in the market, the former president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also said.

Also Read - Huge gap between education and the demands of the job market

Tanvir Ahmed, director of Envoy Group, said that courses Bangladeshi universities offer should focus more on specific areas. Bangladeshi graduates have a lot of potential, but lack exposure and industrial training

"We have a very limited placement program that should be increased. However, some highly qualified Bangladeshi graduates and candidates get better opportunities overseas,“ he also said.

Ahmed, a second generation entrepreneur, has an educational background specializing in business management, administration and finance.

He also mentioned some issues like lack of in-house training and more dependency on expats, as well as courses that local universities offer are more theoretical and less practical

The Envoy Group director group also emphasized proper training of faculty members, collaboration with foreign universities and introduction of need-based courses that local and export-oriented industries require.

“Currently students are not involving themselves in the extra-curricular activities such as sports, music or drama, not even social work.  As such, their confidence levels are very low and they are neither learning how to present themselves in front of others. When they come to the workplace, they face tremendous challenges,” Syed Ershad Ahmed, president of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham), told Dhaka Tribune.

Academia lapses

The curricula of the universities of the country need to be upgraded and updated to cater to demand of the present modern industries. Graduates with traditional curricula hardly match the expectations of the job market, he further said.

The graduates coming out of Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Dhaka University, BUET, CUET, KUET, RUET, Islamic Institute of University and some department of universities have demand in the job market. But scores of university graduates from subjects like sociology, political science, anthropology, public administration, philosophy, history, international relations, peace and conflict, criminology, Islamic studies, Islamic history, and some other subjects, hardly have any demand in the current job market, Ahmed lamented.

To create a better labour required in the readymade garment industry, BGMEA leaders set up the BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT) in 2012 and recently moved to its campus at Uttara.

In recent years, the Bangladesh Textiles Mills Association (BTMA) also set up a textile institute at Savar to cater to the demand of textile mills.

President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdul Matlub Ahmed said that the government should work to expand technical education to 70% of the students.

Ahmed, also a former FBCCI president, said that the government should encourage technical and vocational education to meet the growing demand of manpower in the growing economy of the country.

Industries in Bangladesh have to hire foreign technical hands with higher salaries as local Bangladeshis, who graduated in traditional education, cannot cater to the demands of the market. Bangladesh's economy had been growing at 7-8% before the Covid-19 hit the country, he also said.

President of the Australia-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Obaidur Rahman said that Bangladesh should put emphasis on sending technical manpower to overseas markets instead of traditional unskilled manpower.

Also Read - Prioritizing employment generation a must

Newer horizons

University Grants Commission (UGC) in its annual report emphasized some subjects like nanotechnology, biotechnology, nuclear engineering, livestock, land and water resources, poverty alleviation and economic development, forestry, fisheries resources, leather industry, renewable energy and gas, gas lifting, sea resources, medical science and resources, nursing, textile engineering, fashion designing, apparel manufacturing, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, engineering, marine architecture, marine technology, social science, environment science and disaster management in higher education to produce manpower required in the economy.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni recently said the government has set a target to increase the enrollment rate of technical education to 50% by 2050.

“The government has set a target to increase the enrollment rate of technical education to 50% by 2050. For this, we have to build technology based on skilled human resources,” she said.

Government initiatives

Meanwhile, the government is planning to restructure technical and vocational education, targeting enrolment of 20% of SSC and HSC-level students by 2021 and 30% by 2030, said former Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid.

Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam said that some 3 million job opportunities will be created at Mirsarai Economic Zone.

According to the UGC report, only 0.2% of GDP (gross domestic product) is spent in the higher education of the country that needs to be raised to at least 1% of the GDP.

Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the government has taken various programs incorporating ICT to ensure quality of education aiming to achieve the target of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak urged the academics to prepare curriculum to keep pace with rapid technological advancement.

It is a difficult task to update the curriculum every year. In this case, universities can initiate top up training programs to address the global needs, he said while addressing a recent workshop.

UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shaidullah said: “During the decades, skill requirements of jobs have changed enormously with the advancement of technology. We need to take steps to prepare our youth force for the global markets."

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi recently called upon the officials concerned for engaging inclusive efforts with a changed mindset in rendering services to produce more skilled manpower and enhance the export of them.

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