It’s time to upskill youths for a better Bangladesh

As we move forward while tackling a global pandemic, things which we were accustomed to shall not remain the same. The pandemic has brought a shift in our socio-economic lives – our behaviours significantly shifted from traditional to digital.

Innovative ways of connecting people and businesses have leapfrogged breaking all forecasts, which many compare to somewhat a ‘giant leap towards our readiness for the upcoming fourth industrial revolution’.

Now, digital transformation is not only just a possibility but also a much-needed action for many industries and economies to sustain growth and, to some extent, to exist.

In the third quarter this year, Facebook grew by more than 22 per cent in revenue, indicating that the businesses are turning online at an accelerated pace.

A change in customer needs and behaviours has led to a global shift, which ultimately started to reshape the job market.

According to a report from a2i, by the end of 2021, people may lose an estimated 33 million jobs due to Covid-19.

However, some significant emerging sectors will generate 4 million new jobs, including – pharmaceuticals, information communication and technology (ICT), e-commerce, healthcare services, agro-food, and creative media.

I believe that the people of Bangladesh, especially the youth, need to embrace digital innovation and the transformation that is already taking place across the globe.

To keep pace with the job market’s changing scenario, the youth needs to upskill and reskill digitally to match the job market’s newfound demands.

Organisations will not be sustainable without embracing new technology and investment in new tech will demand new-normal skill sets.

Technology is a pressing shift in the operating model, core and noncore are interchanging their positions, and people are losing jobs.

However, tech evolution is creating new opportunities that are not being filled in immediately. Business models are changing too.

ShopUp is a good example of end to end retailing, wholesaling, logistics, distribution, and financing. In hindsight, the idea might not be new, but the approach is.

A group of people with unique skillsets are operating in the same old trade differently and digitally. That is how the connectivity and tech platforms are cashing in with new business model and are demanding new skills.

When it becomes difficult to sustain with the use of conventional ways, these startups then also need resources with relevant skills.

New skills like personalised marketing, data analytics, product management, cloud, virtualisation, customer-facing IT, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and robotic process automation and coding are in demand here in Bangladesh and the global markets.

Organisations like Grameenphone are facing a challenge to retain 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) relevant skilled resources. A young talented resource has the freedom to make his/her own choice.

For Bangladesh, to keep the leading positions in the apparel sector, investment in new tech is a must and these require a new set of skilled resources and upskilling of existing resources.

Agriculture will give multifold output. The demand and supply gap are not only in the fourth tier of skill requirement but are also equally applicable in the primary, secondary and tertiary skill levels.

The large youth base in Bangladesh can fill in Bangladesh’s skill gap, go beyond border to meet the global skill requirements and bring in remittance.

Bangladesh’s government has the vision to become a developed country by 2041. World Economic Forum, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have complimented Bangladesh on its progress.

All these will happen when inequalities get removed, which will only be possible through digital inclusion at every societal level. It will attract the inspired youth to prepare themselves for the brighter future ahead, given that appropriate governance is there.

Engagement with youth at the mass level means giving them access to digital platforms, guiding them to build the right skill, and connecting them to the job market. Once the ball starts rolling, it shall find its way towards a better platform.

Academia, industries, and the public sector together hold the responsibility to equip them with new digital skills and abilities to help them for taking up the challenges within and beyond borders. Besides technical skills, soft and human skills are equally important.

Bangladesh has the genuine potential to build a global workforce for tomorrow if we can unleash our youth’s massive potential together. It’s not the starting point we are talking about. The country is already well in progress riding on the youth entrepreneurial skills backed by government initiatives.

However, it shall require a big push now to see ahead of the curve and make a mark in the global economy. It is possible!


The writer is the CEO of Grameenphone Ltd.

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