Reducing skills gap to boost growth stressed

NSDA working to formulate nat’l action plan

Though more than two million young people enter into the job market every year, they remain unable to meet the demand for the existing job market due to lack of adequate skills, underscoring the need for formulating a national action plan on skills development. With skills gap brewing up as a major issue in some of the key economic sectors of Bangladesh, the formulation of a national action plan has emerged as an urgent demand of the time to enable fresh entrants of the job market acquire enough skills in their respective fields. Equipping the young job seekers with necessary skills simply links to Bangladesh’s growing quest for earning huge foreign exchange as remittance and ensure healthy growth of domestic industries.

Though 2.2 million young people enter into the job market every year, a majority of them remain unemployed or get engaged in low-income jobs at home and abroad due to lack of proper skills as they fail to meet the needs of the job markets. The domestic skilled labour demand will be 72.41 million by 2020 with 2.91 million in agro-food, 4.42 million in construction and 5.98 million in RMG in spite the fact that skills gap is the highest in agro-food sector followed by RMG.

Against this backdrop, speakers at a workshop on Sunday laid stress on formulating a national action plan on skills development. Experts on skills in various fields as well as high government officials, representatives from the private sectors and development partners attended the workshop, deftly recommending for the formulation of a national action plan.

Salman F Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister, inaugurated the workshop as the chief guest. The National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) organized the daylong workshop titled ‘Formulating the National Action Plan for Skills Development’ at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka.

Md. Nojibur Rahman, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and Md. Selim Reza, Secretary, Ministry of the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment spoke at the workshop as special guests. Md. Faruque Hossain, Executive Chairman (Secretary) of the NSDA, chaired the programme.

In his speech, Salman F Rahman said, Bangladesh should utilize the demographic dividend through raising skills of its large manpower where the majority of the population is young. The present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has undertaken a number of initiatives for boosting the economic growth and formation of the NSDA is a part of it as she realizes the importance of skills development.

In line with this, the government has formed the Human Resource Development Fund and the premier has given approval to the policy for the fund. At the same time, the NSDA is formulating a National Action Plan for Skills Development, he added. Mentioning that the government is giving highest priority to ICT after RMG for mobilizing higher income as remittance as well as boost domestic industry and for this union growth centres have been established bringing 6,000 union parishads under the optical fiber network, which is the highest among countries around the globe.

Pointing to growing challenges for employment for Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said “We have to design skills programmes keeping in mind the industry’s need-based demands”. In his introductory speech, Md. Faruque Hossain said the national action plan on skills development is being formulated for the next five years aiming to ensure compliance in national skills trainings provided by public and private training institutes across the country.

As mandated under the National Skills Development Authority Act-2018, the NSDA is going to formulate an action plan of national skills for taking ahead Bangladesh’s skills development programmes in an appropriate way for meeting the demand of the national as well as international jobs markets, he added.

The authority has started coordinating skills programmes of public, private and NGO-run training institutes and other organisations through innovative and time-befitting methods and introducing curriculum, overseeing standards of the institutes and certifying them for ensuring enhancement of skills of all working people of the country, Faruque Hossain said.

These initiatives of the NSDA would help accelerate the overall economic activities of the country, he added.A keynote paper on National Action Plan for Skills Development was presented and a roundtable session was organized where skills experts made recommendation on the structure of the action plan and its formats.

A session was also organized to help gather insights on various aspects such as assessment and certifications, quality assurance, industry engagement and others. Bangladesh is now at the crossroads to be transformed into a high-productivity growth economy for more and better jobs creation and aims to become a middle-income country under Vision 2021 and a developed nation under Vision 2041 with the underlying principal of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

For this, the government has undertaken several reform initiatives in order to strengthen the skills development ecosystem and formed the NSDA in 2018 by enacting the National Skills Development Authority Act with a basic framework for the institutional and operational aspects of the NSDA.

The NSDA is working to effectively perform its mandate of transforming and regulating the skills development system in Bangladesh, said NSDA chief. Supported by the International Labour Organoisation (ILO), the NSDA has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to coordinate with the key stakeholders for finalization of the cluster specific skill development action plans and develop an integrated National Action Plan for skill development through a series of consultative workshops and close coordination with ministries, providers and agencies.