Emerging Technologies: Reskilling and Upskilling Are Needed for Coping with the Digital World

Hiren Pandit

The difference between these two concepts Reskilling and Upskilling lies in the objective of learning whereas upskilling aims to teach people new skills to optimize their performance; reskilling also known as professional recycling sets out to train people to adapt to different posts within their work. Reskilling is the acquisition of skills to work with technology for everyday tasks today. Upskilling is the skill acquired to work with emerging or new technology more than the currently used technology is called upskilling. For example, working on topics like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, and Bigdata.

Dependence on science, technology and modern technology started in independent Bangladesh. The connection of devices with the Internet began to affect people’s daily life, culture, business, and production. Due to scientific, technical and technological progress, the development of the world is at a great pace. During Bangabandhu’s time, there is no sector including agriculture, education, health, information and communication technology in which the planned initiatives and activities were not implemented. In 1996, 21 years after Bangabandhu’s brutal murder, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power to govern the country for the first time and gave importance to the expansion and development of information and communication technology.

Now the world’s seventh largest data center in Bangladesh, not only data protection but annual savings of Tk. 353 crore. National Data Center at Kaliakoir, Gazipur. Not only domestic data protection, but international organizations are now showing interest in using this database. This achievement of Bangladesh did not come in a day. In 52 years of independence, we have to work with understanding and conviction to move the country forward. It is said in the domestic and foreign media that Bangladesh has become an economic power in South Asia due to the huge increase in exports in the last decade.

Under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, Bangladesh became a member of the important International Telecommunication Union-ITU on 5 September 1973 among the 15 organizations of the United Nations. Earth-resource technology satellite program for the socio-economic survey and meteorological data exchange was implemented under his direction. On June 14, 1975, Bangabandhu inaugurated the Satellite Earth Station at Betbunia. He gives importance to science, technology and technical education. A scientist like Kudrat-e-Khuda headed the Education Commission report and included the goal of using technology in education in the first Five Year Plan of Bangladesh as a very well-thought-out and visionary initiative. Just looking at the various initiatives and activities undertaken in the expansion and development of information and communication technology, it can be seen that the foundation of a modern science-minded technology-based Bangladesh was created by the hands of Bangabandhu, which shows the way for Bangladesh to participate in the digital revolution.

Currently, people are getting more than 300 types of public and private services through 8,650 digital centers across the country. Once the cost of internet bandwidth per Mbps was 78 thousand taka. Currently below taka 60 per Mbps. 18 thousand 500 government offices in the country are under the same network. High-speed (Broadband) internet has reached 5 thousand 500 unions.

The number of mobile connections in the country is more than 186 million. About 13 crore internet users. A report by the World Economic Forum rightly mentions the reduction of the socio-economic gap in rural areas through mobile banking services. The inclusion of people in financial services through the use of information technology is astonishing. Online banking, electronic money transfer, use of ATM cards is not only playing a role in establishing e-government along with creating a cashless society but also expanding e-commerce. 194 countries in the world are ranked 53rd in the ITU and 37th in the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI) in an index based on legal measures, technical skills, organizational measures, capacity building and mutual cooperation. First among South Asian and SAARC countries.

In order to protect the people of the country from the Corona pandemic, the vaccination management system ‘Surakkha’ website was launched with the aim of vaccination activities, storage of vaccination information, management and certification and the people of the country are getting the benefits. In 2025, increasing ICT exports to 5 billion dollars and information and communication technology-based employment to 3 million and ensuring that 100 percent of government services are available online, 300 schools of the future and 1 lakh 9 thousand WiFi connectivity, Village Digital Center and Sheikh Russell Digital Lab are being established by the government.

By making full use of the expansion of information and communication technology through the implementation of Digital Bangladesh, the government has taken a plan to build a modern knowledge-based developed Bangladesh within the year 2041. Technology is changing very rapidly due to the fourth industrial revolution. This impact of technology is far-reaching. It can open doors to possibilities, yet bring new challenges. Not only the garment industry, but many other professions will be less dependent on, use of robots and machines will increase. The need for merit-based professions will increase. The demand for skilled people such as programmers, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) etc. will increase. There is a shortage of skilled programmers in our country. It will be a big challenge. We need to produce skilled programmers. With the help of information technology, young people are creating small and large IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other companies. Apart from this, the capacity and capability of the telecommunication network should be increased to meet the increased demand for e-commerce, outsourcing, freelancing, video streaming, and social media. Digital Bangladesh’s journey over the last 15 years has made us more confident. It has also created acceptance among people. The youth of the country now not only dreams but also knows how to realize their dreams. The self-reliant and self-confident Bangladesh of Bangabandhu’s dream will soon be developed in the indomitable journey of Bangladesh.

Technical education is given the utmost importance in our country. In the future, not only Bangladesh but all over the world will need more skilled manpower. Those who go abroad need to be technically proficient. This is why our education system has changed with the importance of technical education. The government is supporting the private institutes which are providing technical training. Skilled manpower is most important for nation-building. This is what we always think and we are working towards creating skilled manpower. Governments are building manpower in such a way that they can compete anywhere in the competitive world and exploit the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.

For this, we have an increasing demand for people with technical knowledge and skills including computer programmers, data analysts. Hopefully, preparations have already begun to harness the opportunities and potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to meet its challenges. In 2019, a joint survey conducted by the a2i Program and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to identify the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution identified six areas. These are the transformation of the traditional education system, inclusive innovation, developing research and development, simplifying government policies, harnessing the skills of expatriate Bangladeshis and branding Bangladesh as an innovative nation. In light of this survey, various initiatives are being implemented including cooperation in innovation, and teaching programs at the school level. About a year ago, the LICT project of the Department of Information and Communication Technology started training to create skilled people on 10 cutting-edge technologies. These initiatives are promising to turn the risk of our fourth industrial revolution into a possibility.

Emphasizing the need for skilled manpower as a result of the fourth industrial revolution, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentions the importance of technical education. Technical education is given utmost importance. Skilled manpower will be required not only in Bangladesh but also in the whole world in the future. Those who go abroad should become proficient in technical matters. That is why technical education has been changed in our education system. Mentioning that the government is supporting the private institutions that are providing technical training, the head of government said, “Skilled manpower is the most important thing for building a country, we always think that and we are working to create skilled manpower.” The government wants to develop the manpower in such a way that they can compete anywhere in the competitive world.

With the help of information technology, young people are creating small and large IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services and other companies. Apart from this, some major achievements in space including the Bangabandhu satellite have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the world. Human civilization has progressed a lot in thousands of years. Excellence, optimization and efficiency are the watchwords of this century. Artificial intelligence has joined the need for that.

It will be difficult to move into the next century without a link between human innate intelligence and machine intelligence. App-based services have also become very popular. Many are now opting for technology to reduce time, labor and cost in daily operations, production, sales, and marketing. Large companies are using ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. However, a large proportion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are using mobile applications.

The world is seeing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in many ways, from fighting epidemics. In the coming days, the concept of business will radically change various platforms based on artificial intelligence. In the coming days, scientists are giving a glimpse of the widespread use of artificial intelligence machines or robots in various important workplaces including medical services, offices-courts, industries-factories, news agencies or media, language translation processes, telephone services, scientific research, hotels-restaurants and even marketing. To adapt to this, we need to do reskilling and upskilling.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist
and a researcher.

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