Quality training is needed to remove skills gaps in the private sector, said development partners, training providers and employers yesterday.
Besides, coordination among the training providers should be ensured to reap the full potential of training programmes in the country, they said at a roundtable at the Prothom Alo.
The newspaper organised the event on “Investment on skill development in 8th five-year plan” with support from the International Labor Organization (ILO). An eco-friendly banner made of jute was used in the programme.
Prof Shamsul Alam, a member of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission, said the country had a large number of public and private universities and many institutions were providing training but the private sector suffered from a dearth of skilled labour.
It indicates that the education system needs huge reforms, he said.
He said the economy required people with technical, vocational and technological skills and if they were not locally sourced, foreigners would have to be brought in, causing a huge amount of money to be remitted out.
According to a survey of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), at least 13 percent of Bangladeshi garment factories hire skilled people from India, Sri Lanka and many other countries whereas a huge number of local people were searching for jobs but could not find any.
“The private sector doesn’t want certificates but quality skills, so our government emphasised on it but the private sector will also have to work with us hand in hand,” said Alam.
Md Faruk Hossain, executive chairman of the National Skills Development Authority (NSDA), said many development partners, government entities and NGOs were providing training but there was a lack of coordination. As a result, some people got more training than they required and some none at all.
On the other hand, some people are availing the training but are not skilled enough or not aware of the market demand for which they remained unemployed, he said.
“So, coordination is needed among all the training providers,” he said.
The NSDA is working on prioritising training, which would be the most in demand in the future, so that it could be provided properly, Hossain said, adding that the private sector should properly decide on the skills they needed.
Bangladesh is currently in an era enjoying demographic dividend, so skilled-based training is very important to provide jobs to youths, said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director for the ILO Bangladesh.
He said the training policy in the upcoming five-year plan should be inclusive, taking into account women and marginalised people.
Investment is needed to form a platform for matchmaking employers with employees so as to find out which skills were in demand and for trainees to get jobs at proper places, he added.
Prof Alam, who works in the formulation of five-year plans, said the government was going to put emphasis on rising economic growth, reducing income inequality and tackling impacts of climate change.
“Income inequality will be curbed when jobs for the marginalised people can be ensured, so the government is focusing on skills development,” he said.
CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem echoed the same, saying that the government should focus on the marginalised people so that they could lead better lives.
Riful Jannat, senior development adviser at the Canadian high commission in Bangladesh, said Bangladesh needed skilled instructors and necessary infrastructure, which in turn required investment.
The government should lead such activities so that it finds the skills required, persons to provide the training, and ways for development partners to extend cooperation, said Jannat.
The NSDA can provide coordinated, qualified and standardised certificates which were acceptable to all, added Jannat.
Kamran T Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, said the country was not producing enough jobs for the increasing number of young jobseekers. So, the government should find out what skills they required for being employable abroad.
“We have to focus on creating entrepreneurs who will create jobs for others,” he said, adding that skills development should be based on mid- and long-term strategies.
“We can’t go ahead with the present curriculum, so it needs reforms,” he added.
The speakers emphasised carrying out surveys to identify the skills that would be needed in the future. They also called for prioritising skills based on IT, nursing and agro-processing.
Hans Lambrecht, first secretary, Team Leader Education & Human Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh; Kishore Kumar Singh, senior skills specialist at the ILO Bangladesh; Aftab Uddin Ahmed, director at Skills Development Programme; Didarul Anam Chowdhury, director for programme and innovation at the Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programme (UCEP); Shazia Omar, communications consultant at the World Bank; and Manas Bhattacharyya, officer-in-charge of Skills 21 project, were present.