Creating skilled workforce is a great concern for Bangladesh, addressed by Education Minister of Bangladesh, Nurul Islam Nahid MP to participants of the British Council Bangladesh’s recent GED Skills Symposium. Held in the Auditorium of the British Council, Dhaka on 19 and 20 October 2015 in partnership with the National Skills Development Council Secretariat, having the theme of “Access Points and Progression Pathways - routes to success in education, employment and skills” addressed what Adrian Greer, Chief Operating Officer, British Council, described as 'one of the critical issues in Bangladesh'.
To set the scene, research findings were shared that indicate high levels of optimism among young people about the future of Bangladesh and achievement of their personal aspirations. Commissioned by the British Council, ActionAid Bangladesh and University of Liberal Arts, the research "Next Generation Bangladesh: Optimistic next generation to lead Bangladesh towards prosperity - 2015 and beyond" sought the opinions of 5,000 young people aged between 15-30 years across Bangladesh via surveys and focus group discussions. A majority (60%) believe that Bangladesh is heading towards the right direction and 54% believe that Bangladesh will become more prosperous by 2030 in spite of a number of challenges which included, among others, lack of job opportunities and quality of education and its relevance to employment.
The expansion of technical and vocational education and training for creating skilled individuals is a priority among all the priorities for the Government of Bangladesh right now." - Honourable Minister of Education, Bangladesh
Bringing together leading figures from both the public and private sector from both the national and international perspective, the symposium explored a number of themes which make a significant impact on the transition from education into employment throughout the learning life-cycle. Participants considered ways to support young people into employment at different entry points and in achieving academic progression, reflecting on the quality of traditional education in Bangladesh and employability issues. The perception and recognition of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) was identified as a particular area requiring attention, together with the need to cater the market driven demands in national and international sectors. The development of skills through a range of partnerships needs to be taken forward: public-public; public-private; and between the ‘trinity’ of policy makers, academia and employers.
Through the two day long dialogue, key elements were prioritised to ensure occupation/work for all and to prepare the youth for the future. Access to high quality education along with TVET is a must, with its basis on the core principles of quality, recognition and transparency. In addition, a broader definition of skills emerged with the traditional technical skills being enhanced by entrepreneurship, management and core skills. An approach which includes modular based qualifications and competence-level based assessment can provide an alternative framework to education.
As highlighted in a most lively debate, active collaboration between academia and industry and policy makers can upskill Bangladesh’s current workforce and fully equip its future entrants in support of achievement of its 'Vision 2021'.