A roundtable organised recently by Prothom Alo highlighted the importance of skills-based education in Bangladesh. The country stands on the brink of a technological revolution—the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution—which is sweeping across the world and will fundamentally alter the way we live and work. We need to take a critical look at the efficacy of our existing training and education systems and update them in light of the challenges that our workforce is poised to face. Speakers at the event have rightly underscored the need for concerted efforts from the government and all other stakeholders including the donors to streamline all policy initiatives in this regard so as to be able to respond better to the unfolding market realities. Introducing a Sector Wide Approach in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector will be a stepping stone, but for that to work, removing existing barriers is essential.
The fact is, there is a yawning skill gap in Bangladesh which will all but widen in future if the existing education system is not changed. Our education system is still too rigid and theoretical and, in many cases, failing to meet the demands of the recruitment sector. Often it is seen that graduates do not have the necessary knowhow needed for their jobs. To address this, a thorough analysis of the nature of emerging jobs in the local and international markets and the skills required for that is important. The government has reportedly planned to introduce a technical education course for all students of general stream from class VI. This is a good initiative, if implemented. But more needs to be done to mainstream technical education. Among other barriers facing technical education are a lack of qualified teachers, lack of proper infrastructure, budget constraints and lack of oversight from the government. The government has a vital role to play in all this. It must rise to the occasion and lead the way forward.