Some 53.8 lakh jobs spread across five specialised industries — garment, food and agriculture, furniture, tourism and hospitality, and leather and footwear — are at risk for the impending fourth industrial revolution, found a recent study.
The study — Future Skills — conducted by Access to Information (a2i) programme under the ICT Division along with some local and international experts between May and October last year found the jobs will disappear within the next two decades for adoption of new technologies.
Of the five sectors, garment will be the worst hit, with as many as 60 percent or 27 lakh jobs vanishing by 2041, found the study that was completed in December last year but unveiled yesterday at a programme held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka.
The paper stressed the need for training to combat the upcoming challenge.
At yesterday’s event a consultation meeting styled ‘Industry 4.0 and Future of Work’ also took place, where experts and industry insiders discussed the risks and how they can be mitigated.
At the same time, they also gave importance to improving the skills of the manpower to lead the upcoming revolution.
It would be misleading to say people will lose their job after automation, said Md Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator of SDG affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“We should accept automation to accelerate our growth and at the same time workers need to be trained up to combat the incoming industrial revolution,” he added.
Expressing her frustration on the country’s education system, Nihad Kabir, president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said: “With this education system none can face the challenges of upcoming industrialisation.”
“With this education system we cannot even produce quality accountants and that is why more than 100,000 accountants from the neighbouring country are working in Bangladesh,” she added.
The government is planning to teach robotics in some selected schools on a pilot basis, said Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel, deputy minister of education.
After the pilot, the ministry will take a decision on when it will incorporate robotics into the curriculum.
“The government is trying to update the curriculum in schools and colleges for the upcoming industrial revolution. We want industry’s support to make the initiative viable.”
There was a negative perception about vocational education in the country and the government is trying to improve the situation.
“Without vocational education or proper training, we can’t face the challenge of 4.0 industry revolution,” he added.
The country will be prepared to face the fourth revolution and already the changes have started to take place, said Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, industries minister.
“Hi-tech companies like Samsung have rolled out their production lines with some sophisticated products and new companies will come. This will also help us to face the challenge,” he added. Speakers also gave importance to apprenticeship, which they are saying will be helpful to train the youth to face the challenges. KM Akhtaruzzaman, chairman of Akhtar Furnishers, said the industry is exporting huge amounts of furniture now.
“We have adopted technology and that will also help us to grow more. Currently, 25 lakh people are working in this field and the industry still has huge demand, especially for trained manpower,” he added.
Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of the a2i project, moderated the event, while Md Faruque Hossain, executive director of National Skills Development Authority under the Prime Minister’s Office; Syed Md Golam Faruk, director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education; Van Berkel Rene, regional representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and Kishore Kumar Singh, senior specialist at ILO Bangladesh, also spoke.
The programme was jointly organised by UNIDO and a2i in association with the cabinet division, ICT division and USAID.
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