The Covid-19 pandemic has slightly slowed down the GDP growth which has been witnessing an upward trend in the last one decade.
However, Bangladesh is expected to make strong progress in the next 10 years if the government initiatives including infrastructural development, establishment of 100 economic zones, reduction of interest rates for bank loans, and implementation of mega projects continue.
For this, education has to be connected with the industry, and the curricula of universities and technical training institutes have to be rearranged now prioritising technical education.
With proper education in place and mega-structures such as Padma Bridge, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Elevated Expressway and high speed trains launched, if the infrastructural crisis is overcome, the country's economy will graduate to the second phase of economy in the next 10 years.
Japanese, South Korean and Chinese investment has already started coming to Bangladesh. There is a chance of getting huge amounts of investments from these countries in future.
The bulk of these foreign investments will be in high-tech, chemical, automobile, electronics, and heavy steel industries.
For this, the light engineering industry has to be developed in Bangladesh. Although the industry has not been highlighted so far, the government is now taking several initiatives to develop the sector.
It is not possible to attain upper-middle income status riding only on the textiles and readymade garments. Because, value additions in these industries are very low. Such paltry value addition will not succeed in increasing the per capita income to the desired level. Therefore, the country must pay attention to the light engineering industry to reach the second phase of the economy.
Moreover, the global market for light engineering is many times larger than readymade garments and textiles. The market size of readymade garments and textile products is $820 billion while light engineering market size is $7 trillion.
For Bangladesh, it will be easier to become a middle-income country by 2030 riding on the light engineering industry. During the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it will be possible to create huge jobs in this sector.
Due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, automation, use of robotics and artificial intelligence will keep rising in Bangladesh. We have to rearrange our curricula keeping these issues in mind.
We should mind that manufacturing will not be the same as it is now even in the conventional industries. Sophisticated automation will vanish many jobs.
Job creation will be one of the main challenges for the government in the coming years. We will need labour intensive investments as well as people with technical know-how to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Our agriculture will longer continue in the conventional way since technology will turn many unemployed there too. Therefore, education will have to be for job creation, sustainability and development.
It is possible to create a skilled workforce by carrying out changes to the existing education system. Otherwise we will lag behind.
Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Chambers of Industries