Serious crisis of skilled people, despite abundant labour
A major barrier to expansion of technical education in Bangladesh today is the negative mindset towards ‘blue-collar’ jobs, a Prothom Alo roundtable was told on Saturday.
Also, stakeholders said, while the industry needs a lot of technically sound workers, the educational institutions fail to supply the required manpower.
Mismatch between industry demand and learning curricula was identified as a barrier to both attaining higher productivity and capturing jobs by youths.
The roundtable on ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Professional Skills Development: Public-Private Partnership’ was organised at Prothom Alo’s Karwanbazar office, in association with the government of Bangladesh and International Labour Organization (ILO).
“There is a huge gap between workers’ skills and industry demand,” Abdul Aziz, principal of Jessore Technical School and College, said.
He explained that around 24 economic sectors in Bangladesh need more than 63 million skilled people whereas only 18 million is available at present.
About serious deficiency in skills among new entrants, he cited an example that a technical institute managed to find only 17 people eligible out of 33,000 applicants.
ILO country director for Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen emphasised the need for investment to keep pace with advancement of technology and methods of education.
“Without investment it is very hard for Bangladesh to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals),” he said adding that it is important to identify the investors’ needs and methods to be developed to meet the requirements.
Director general of the directorate of technical education Ashoke Kumar Biswas pointed out that no technical education institution ever sought allocation for skills development programmes despite availability of the government funds for the purpose.
Alexius Chicham, national project coordinator for ILO, said students employed in technical jobs on completion of vocational training join various trades under certain project.
However, he pointed out, even being provided with technical education and jobs, students are generally not so interested in such jobs. He further regretted that the private entrepreneurs too lose interest once their pilot projects are over.
Dwelling on negative mindset towards blue-collar jobs, Gowher Nayeem Wahra, a Dhaka University teacher, said, “Such mindset should be changed so that the workers are treated with dignity.” He gave example of the free mingling of CEO of Toyota with his workers and said, “Why can’t we do it here?”
Mohammad Alamgir, secretary of the madrasa education division under the education ministry, underlined the importance of quality education and reasonable pay package to change the mindset. “A minimum salary should be declared,” he added.
Social operation officer of the World Bank Dhaka office Mokhlesur Rahman mentioned that in some other countries, people pursue jobs on completion of school education.
“But in our case, we have a tendency not to work immediately after SSC (secondary school certificate),” he said and pointed out that skill gaps are more felt at the mid-level management due to absence of culture of attaining skills from the entry level.
“We’ve lack of professionalism as many leave jobs without properly notifying the institution. That creates a constantly felt insecure environment,” said Tasmiah Rahman, BRAC’s head of skills department.