The Post-COVID CV 'Acquiring Soft Skills'

The Covid-19 crisis has already transformed into an economic and jobs market shock, but at the same time, expedited the adoption of digital technologies by several years. So, the post-Covid resume would need jobseekers to gain new technology and soft skills.

This clarion call for reskilling of the country's existing and potential workforce in order to help them thrive in a post-Covid world has come from none other than industry and public policy experts at a webinar, titled 'New jobs and skill for future business', organized by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI).

According to DCCI President Shams Mahmud, Bangladesh has a demographic dividend to leverage accelerated economic growth. ''But World Bank says that about 40% of university graduates are unemployed due to skill mismatch."

"The nature and demand of skills in the global job market are shifting due to global change and acceleration of disruptive technologies. Most employers believe that critical thinking and problem-solving skills will grow in prominence and 50% of all employees would need re-skilling by 2025," he said. 

Shams Mahmud also urged for improvement of conventional skills to exploit the demographic dividend "as our workforce are diverse by skills and education to meet employment needs at home and abroad". 

"On the other hand, many non-traditional ICT-backed ventures like online startups, freelancing have emerged as new jobs, skills and economies. They must be backed by 4IR technologies such as IOT, Blockchain and cloud computing and necessary fiscal and regulatory support for their sustainable growth," he said. 

The DCCI President also recommended strengthening Industry-academia collaboration to orient emerging skills and redesign the education curricula based on market demand and arranging internationally accredited skills development training to meet the skills requirements of overseas skilled employment. 

On his part, Dr M Masrur Reaz, Chairman of Policy Exchange, said that the quality of jobs is more important for Bangladesh as the country has the vision to graduate to an upper-middle-income status country in near future. 

"Due to Covid pandemic, global growth fell down to -4.4% in 2020 and 50% global SMEs are facing challenges to survive. Lower middle-income countries in the world are hit hard by Covid 19, resulting in 240 million jobs lost in the second quarter of this fiscal. 

"According to BIDS, about 13% of all employment lost are due to Covid in Bangladesh. But In the wake of recovering economic activities and the new normal, 3.1 million new jobs may be created by 2021. And technology will cater to the future of jobs. 

"For future jobs, there should be eight must-have skills like adaptability and flexibility, tech orientation, creativity and innovation, data literacy, critical thinking, digital skills, leadership and emotional intelligence," he said.

He also urged for modernizing trade and investment environments, strengthening the quality of jobs and improving policies, and suggested long-term skill strategy, public-private partnership, regulatory reforms, industry partnership, financing skills programs and skills training for women.

At the webinar, Md Ashadul Islam, Senior Secretary, Financial Institutions Division, Ministry of Finance, said that the government tried to sustain the economic activities amid Covid. "But still we are going through the pandemic. Growth without employment generation will not be sustainable. And the government is giving priority to the right skills with an enabling environment," he said.

"We need to rethink the policy dimension due to Covid situation. Inevitable technology adaptation is now the demand of the day. Remittance income, right skill export will boost our remittance. We need to create a business-friendly environment in the country. Automation is very important and Bangladesh Bank is working to facilitate. We have to be prepared for future technology shifts to accommodate job creation," he said.

Dulal Krishna Saha, (Secretary), Executive Chairman, National Skills Development Authority also echoed similar sentiments. "We need hard, soft and human skills. NGOs and the private sector should come forward to organize skill development programmes."

Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, urged upon inclusive and equal growth of Bangladesh. "Soft skills need to be adopted," he said, stressing vocational and technical training as well as the quality of education. Zaki Uz Zaman, Country Representative, UNIDO, said Bangladeshi youths are very creative and they should explore the potential of the global block-chain arena.

Similarly, Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh, underscored the need for a framed job strategy. "To grab the future job market, bold action needs to be taken to generate a skilled workforce. The private sector needs to work horizontally with the government and other stakeholders," he said.

Yasir Azman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Grameenphone Ltd. said "our youths have potential". "All we need to do is to ignite and encourage the youth to face the challenges of future robotics," he said. 

Another speaker, Rahat Ahmed, Founding Partner & CEO, Anchorless Bangladesh said facilitating startups will open up opportunities to create self-employment.

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