Training on market-responsive skills

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 18 Aug 2017, 20:38:18
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Editorial

Training on market-responsive skills

The planned academic enrolment of 20 per cent in technical or vocational education in 2020 from the present 14 per cent, as reported in the FE Saturday, is indeed a step forward. It will turn a sizeable segment of the population into human resources. According to an official document of the Education Ministry, the government has already increased seats in polytechnic institutes to 57,780 from 25,000. A project has already been undertaken to establish at least a technical school and a college in all upazilas of the country gradually. 

The plan is crucial as the workforce in the country has been estimated at around 60 million. Up to two million young people are entering the workforce each year. Although access to education has grown, the vast majority of the working population lacks general education or occupational skill training. Even the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has classified about 40 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 24 years as 'not in education, employment or training'. The actual number adds up to 11.6 million youth or about one-fifth of the total working age population. The ILO has rated Bangladesh's position as the third worst in the region-behind the Maldives (56 per cent), a small island in the midst of political turmoil  and Yemen (48 per cent), devastated by a deadly civil war for the past several years. The rate of youth inactivity is much worse for women, estimated at 62 per cent in Bangladesh.

Inactivity of otherwise energetic youth has far-reaching implications for the country. These are the youths who have not chosen to be in the situation they are in. They would rather be in schools or universities, participate in training, or better still, be in jobs that pay decent wages. Unfortunately, prevailing education and training programmes, or employment market, do not offer them a viable opportunity. They are at most risk of marginalisation from the labour market and society. Such a state of youth inactivity is not only an economic waste, but also liable to create social risks. Many youths become easy prey to evil forces that derail them. They who could be counted as demographic dividend, but the country fails to take advantage of the opportunity.

The Planning Commission and other relevant agencies urgently need to conduct field-level surveys on skills different sectors of the economy now require and prepare a comprehensive technical education curriculum. Diverse skill development opportunities, which are market-responsive, with a strong private-public partnership approach, are needed. The emphasis has to be on ensuring quality and relevance rather than just on expanding existing institutions and programmes. The primary need is to assess changing patterns of work, analyse the market situation and prioritise skills that are in great demand from manufacturing and service industries.  It is time for imparting training to teachers so that they can teach their students the right skill set. An inclusive approach embracing formal and informal sectors and the disadvantaged groups across the economy has to be pursued. In this context, a lot of emphasis has been placed on fashion designs in the garment sector, but the industry is yet to find many such people with technical knowledge.

 
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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