Germany and England have around 80% and 42% multi-skilled people respectively. In contrast, Bangladesh has only 4%
The current education system is producing a large number of knowledge-based graduates who have little capacity to fit in with the job market. Therefore, a skill gap remains among the youth which increases the unemployment pressure in the country.
Speakers at the first episode of a week-long webinar series organised by Grameenphone suggested that the authorities concerned bring necessary changes in the education system to produce skill-based graduates and the economy.
Government officials, university professionals, stakeholders and youth representatives participated in the discussion on Monday that marked the occasion of the National Youth Day.
Dulal Krishna Saha, executive chairman of the National Skill Development Authority (NSDA), said that the curriculum of the universities and training institutes has to be updated.
"Due to these problems we are not getting skilled manpower from the training institutes, and we are recruiting people from foreign countries," he said.
Dr Rafiuddin Ahmed, associate professor of marketing at Dhaka University and also the founder of Innokids, said that a skill gap has been created as universities are teaching students through a curriculum that creates knowledge-based graduates.
"A large number of graduates remain unemployed due to the education system. Meanwhile, industries and employers are not recruiting these youths as they need additional training to make them skilled manpower," he said.
Dr Rafiuddin emphasised multi-skilled manpower to solve the problem of skill gap.
"Germany and England have around 80% and 42% multi-skilled people respectively who know some other jobs besides their academic background. In contrast, we have only 4% people in Bangladesh who are multi-skilled," he said.
Raising questions about the efficiency of our education system, he said compared with the western countries our youths have a skill gap of 10 years.
"In other countries, youths start working when they are 14 years old. But we cannot engage our youths in the job market before they are 24," he added.
"We need to create a skill-based economy rather than a knowledge-based one," he suggested.
Osama Bin Noor, co-founder of Youth Opportunities, said the main reason behind the skill gap is a lack of decentralised opportunities.
"All sorts of opportunities are based in Dhaka. Therefore, a student from a remote area cannot avail the opportunity until he or she shifts to the capital," said Osama.
Solaiman Alam, chief digital and strategy officer at Grameenphone, said it is not possible to bring the huge number of unemployed people under formal employment.
"Therefore, we have to think about how we can skill up our youths so that they would be able to work in international atmospheres, not only at home," he said.
For this, the preparation needs to be started at the very root level, he added.
Farhana Islam, head of innovation at Grameenphone, moderated the webinar.