Skilled Human Resources are Needed for Coping with Emerging Technologies

Hiren Pandit: Digital Bangladesh is working to improve and modernize citizens’ quality of life and efficiently access citizen services, education, health, management, work, industry, trade and production, economy, and social and cultural lifestyle digitally. As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, technology-based services are being made available to marginalized communities. Technology has become a trusted medium in all citizen services and lifestyles. In response to the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasized various infrastructural developments, including the development of skilled human resources. In the next five years, Bangladesh strives to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index. A total of 5500 Unions have been brought under the Internet at affordable cost through the One Country One Rate program. 5G has been launched, but working in a more reliable range will take a few days. With the help of information technology, young people are building small and big IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other organizations.
Besides, some significant achievements, including Bangladesh’s first satellite in space, have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the eyes of the world. Only by creating skilled human resources can we progress properly regarding technological development. Only then will it be possible to utilize the additional working people and build a developed and prosperous country by facing the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution? The government is moving forward. The whole world is moving forward. Everything is at hand. We have entered the fourth industrial revolution. Everything we know is changing—socialization, office structure, agriculture, lifestyle. Humans are doing everything by giving commands to the computer system.
A robot might do the work of hundreds of people later. Organizing long meetings or gatherings during COVID-19 is no longer happening today. We discuss ourselves on Zoom or various platforms. Time, physical presence, grand arrangement – all these are not required. We are living through a technological revolution. Change is always inevitable, and we have started to adapt to it. Radical changes are coming in everything. We are running various businesses from home. We can predict what will happen by looking at the number of orders placed online at Amazon, Ali Baba, or other online shops.
We are getting everything at home in the online market. Any service we want to purchase is available on the online platform. At first, we may have difficulty adapting or facing various obstacles, but we get used to everything with time. With the pervasiveness of technology in today’s medicine or engineering, we are living with the fourth industrial revolution. A recent report published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) shows that the country’s population is 169.8 million or 16.98 crore, of which 28 percent are youth, i.e. 47.4 million (4.74 crore). About 62 percent of the total population is working between the ages of 15 and 59 and is 105 million. The youth comprising such a large percentage of the total population would be considered a massive opportunity for any country if every working-age citizen of that country could be provided decent jobs. In particular, young people entering the job market every year can be put to good use.
Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan achieved phenomenal economic growth by taking advantage of the demographic dividend in the 1960s and 1990s. Experts believe it will not be long before Bangladesh can exploit this demographic advantage. As life expectancy increases, so will the number of senior citizens. The question is how to utilize this large number of youths. The country’s youth should be trained according to the current market needs. Emphasis should be placed on digital technology and technical education of the youth to adapt to the job market because of the fourth industrial revolution. We cannot utilize the youth unless we provide suitable jobs for their needs. The education rate in Bangladesh has increased, and the number of educated youths is also high. With 2.2 to 2.3 million young people entering the job market every year, we fail to provide them with the jobs they need. According to International Labor Organization (ILO) data, Bangladesh has Asia-Pacific’s second highest educated unemployment rate.
If we cannot provide decent employment to this vast youth population, it will hinder the country’s growth and demoralize the youth. However, of late, the government has taken the initiative to modernize the education system by identifying its weaknesses. It is absurd that the country’s educated youth will not get jobs, and skilled workers should be brought from abroad to run industries, trade, and commerce. So, what are we teaching? The main objective of the government is to create employment for the youth. However, the future of youth and the overall development and progress of Bangladesh will depend on how much that goal will be achieved and how much time it will take.
The working population should be employed. At present, 65.51 percent of the population of Bangladesh is between 15 and 64 years of age. Experts describe this population as functional. How did the economy of Bangladesh start with only 18 dollars? There will be a favorable environment for Bangladesh till 2038. Then, the elderly population will continue to grow. Census 2022 has both positive and negative aspects for Bangladesh. According to the 2022 census, the population aged 65 and above is 5.88 percent. The number of educated unemployed people in the country is increasing daily. According to data from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, the number of uneducated and uneducated unemployed men and women in the country is 26 lakh 77 thousand. As the rate of attaining higher education in the country increases, so is the unemployment rate among the highly educated.
In Bangladesh, it takes 16 to 18 years of a student’s life to complete higher education, i.e., graduation or post-graduation. In some cases, it takes more than three years due to session congestion. According to the BBS latest labor force, the unemployment rate is high among educated people in the country, where 47 percent of educated people are unemployed. On the other hand, 2 million people are joining the labor force every year in the country. But employment is not happening in that proportion. As a result, a large section remains unemployed.
Our education system cannot meet the demands of time. As a result, the concerned parties should also come forward to end this situation. The fourth industrial revolution is now coming to the fore in the world. Considering this fourth industrial revolution, the government is creating a skilled workforce. People of the country should be skilled in technical and technology-based education and training to keep pace with the changing world. A skilled workforce can contribute to our country’s development sector. A large number of Bangladeshi workers work in different countries around the world. We have to send skilled workforce to foreign labor markets. The government has targeted building ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041. Work on this has already started.
One crore twenty lacs fifty-five thousand people are working abroad in different countries of the world. Eighty-eight percent of them have no training; that is, about 7.6 million expatriates have no job training. The remaining 12 percent of expatriates have received training on any of the four courses in technical education, languages, computers, and driving. The number of doctors, engineers, teachers, and vocational education degree holders among expatriates is deficient. Various developments in technology and the reign of the industrial economy have brought revolutionary changes in the world’s economic, political, and social structure. Now, the global value of technical know-how is easily seen. It is possible to increase the amount of foreign exchange earned from the workforce sector several times. Education is needed to create skilled human resources. Higher education institutions can play a significant role in this regard. That is why it is said that higher education should be reorganized to survive global competition. Recognizing the need for skilled human resources, the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission have started revamping the education system to create a workforce suitable for the 4IR. Bangladesh is continuously connecting with the global economy. Our communication channels are four: export, import, investment, and temporary migration.
The imports of Bangladesh are much higher than those of exports. Therefore, increasing investment (foreign) in the country and exporting the workforce are the primary means of strengthening the economy. Foreign investment will increase only when the government has sufficient resources, such as mines, land, capital, or workforce. An unskilled workforce does not encourage foreign investment. In this case, there will be investment only in the labor-dependent sector. Bangladesh is exporting only one product. But in countries where labor skills are high, foreign investment increases in those countries. The same is the case with workforce exports. Workers are needed abroad. However, the demand for skilled workers is constantly increasing.
Skilled workers earn about ten times more than unskilled workers. And the skill of the worker depends on the quality of education. So, changing the quality of education is very important. It will not be possible to change the education system through conventional thinking. The fourth industrial revolution is giving a new dimension to world civilization. The processes and possibilities of this revolution are already being widely discussed worldwide. The discussion is going on in our country, too. As we know, the fourth industrial revolution is the fusion of physical, digital and biological spheres. Here, physical is human, biological is nature, and digital is technology. It becomes difficult to separate these three. What is the result of this? What kind of changes in society? This results in intellectualization, human-machine interfaces, and merging reality and virtuality. To prepare us for the fourth industrial revolution, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence, contest intelligence, etc., must be introduced into the mind.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and researcher.

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