Shortage of skilled manpower

Dhaka,  Tue,  19 September 2017
Published : 03 Aug 2017, 19:41:58
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Editorial

Shortage of skilled manpower

The less talked-about shortage of manpower skilled enough for recruitment in the country's factories, industries and service sector has been woefully exposed by a recent study. Prepared by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the study report is in fact an oblique reference to the mismatch between the demand from the country's job market and production of adequately educated and skilled employees. The study finds the highest skill gap in the agro-food sector followed by the readymade garments sector (RMG). According to it, the dearth of skilled workers in the agro-food sector has been estimated at 77 per cent. The highest foreign exchange earner, RMG needs 119,479 skilled workers, 48,130 semi-skilled and 8,677 unskilled employees. Even the construction sector can absorb 200,000 workers. There are other production areas where skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour is in need. 

At issue here is not the employment of graduates whose unemployment rate was once reported to be as high as 47 per cent against the national average rate of 4.10 per cent. These are low-end employment areas where training matters more than higher education. Understandably, general graduates are becoming increasingly misfit for today's more demanding technical jobs on the one hand and they are reluctant to apply for such low-end labour-intensive jobs on the other. But the army of unemployed workers who desperately look for menial jobs abroad should not be resentful of such employment. They consider the wage differences and opt for any employment abroad. True, at home the wages are paltry at the entry point but if properly skilled there is scope of moving up the ladder to draw handsome wages. Skill has either to be acquired through on-the-job training or the education system must provide practical training at the institutions or institutes they study. There may be institutes for exclusive training before job-seekers are ready for the employment market. 

The study has found that such training academies or institutes -both in public and private sector -are poor suppliers of trained hands. Now here is an old issue that has been analysed time and again for rectification. Suggestions have been made time and again for production of more technical hands than general graduates. It is a policy failure on the part of policymakers in this country. If the country could strike a balance between demand and supply of trained manpower, it could dispense with recruitment of a vast number of foreign nationals in the RMG sector. The agro-food sector's post-harvest operation could be improved in order to avoid many of the unethical practices besetting the sector. 

Importantly enough, the country's unemployed young people would not have been compelled to take the ultimate risk seeking jobs - sometimes illegal and back-breaking -- abroad. So the focus should be on production of trained labour under a crash programme. Experiences of workers in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia should act as a deterrent to their desperate search for jobs on foreign lands provided that they are adequately trained at home for recruitment here with the prospect of moving up the ladder. Such an enabling employment environment is a prerequisite for enhanced production and better economic justice.



 
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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