But job losses will still surpass the new employment generated in the emerging sectors
By the end of 2021, an estimated 33 million people will loss their jobs owing to the fallout of Covid-19, while five emerging sectors will generate 40 lakh new jobs.
Access to Information (a2i) – the flagship programme of the Digital Bangladesh agenda – revealed this while sharing the findings of their research titled "Post Covid-19 Jobs and Skills in Bangladesh."
The losses in employment amid the economic slowdown will affect the country's GDP growth, discussants said regarding the research at a webinar organised by the EMK Center and a2i on Thursday.
The research identified 11 sectors highly affected by the economic slowdown where job opportunities have declined or vanished.
Head of Future Work Lab of the a2i Asad-Uz-Zaman said the pandemic has already wiped out around 25 million jobs. An additional 55 lakh workers could lose their employment by the end of 2020 while over 25 lakh people could lose their jobs the next year.
"Meanwhile, there will be 40 lakh new job opportunities in pharmaceuticals, information communication and technology, e-commerce, healthcare services, agro-food, and creative media," he added.
According to the a2i research, most jobs have vanished from the high-impact sectors, namely the informal sector and small and medium enterprises, transportation, construction, furniture, readymade goods and textile, leather and footwear, tourism and hospitality, light engineering, migration sector, real estate and housing, and the ceramic industry.
Since job losses will evidently surplus new job opportunities, a2i official Asad emphasised joint public and private collaboration to promote new entrepreneurship.
He further said, "There will be huge demand for food processing and packaging managers, food chemists, farmers and so on in the agro-food sector. The ICT sector will require more e-commerce product managers, data or cloud engineers while the health sector will need more nurses, medical technicians and online-consultants."
Zubayer Zakir Khan, an adjunct faculty and internship coordinator of Independent University, Bangladesh, said freelancers could fill up the gap as digital marketing ventures have been failing to offer commercial prices to their clients due to a fund crunch.
The third option for energising the job market would be soft skills development, Asad said.
Referring to some recovering agro and tech-based global companies, EMK Center Acting Director Asif U Uddin said there would be demand for skilled manpower – 10 lakh in agro-farming, 10 lakh in health sector, 4.5 lakh in pharmaceutical, 6.5 lakh in ICT and 90,000 in creative media by 2021.
The discussants agreed that conducting skills development training would be challenging amid the pandemic. They said vocational training requires hands-on or practical experience, which is difficult to get through e-learning.
However, Director General of Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC) Dr Md Mafizur Rahman argued that innovative practical training through internet could deliver almost the same result.
He cited the example of how BITAC is offering training on agri machineries to Bogura farmers using an online platform.
The a2i Social Innovation Lab head Manik Mahmud moderated the webinar with more than 100 participants.