"Bangladeshi graduates do not have the required skills to thrive in the job market" is probably one of the statements that every job seeker in Bangladesh hears. Like every other statement, there is a certain degree of truth in it, as with the changing realities of jobs and the skills that are expected from a graduate, it has become quite hard for a fresh graduate to meet all the necessary requirements of employers.
Many employers nowadays are looking for graduates who are not only academically competent but also have a knack for communication and above-average computer skills. All these requirements can make job searching quite overwhelming for fresh graduates, as universities generally do not equip a fresh graduate with the skills required for the job.
Shamsul Nawed Nafees, a strategy consultant at one of the leading global consulting firms, talked about this. When it comes to his own skills and abilities, he told the writer that he relies time and again on his problem-solving abilities.
He added that despite the emphasis put on problem-solving in the consultancy sector, its usefulness transcends the boundary of consultancy and applies to most other sectors, and employers would pay good money to people who would be able to offer solutions rather than simply point out problems.
One of the most crucial things that a person can pick up is the ability to work efficiently in a team. For a career in finance or consulting, where you typically work in teams and everything is divided into projects, it is particularly important that you figure out how to get better at working in a team. This means building interpersonal relationships, figuring out what your niche is so you can specialise in doing that well, handling conflict, and being able to voice your thoughts in a way that everyone understands.
He also added, "These might seem like generic ideas, but I have learnt that these are all practical skills that can and must be practised more and more. "
He also affirmed the importance of taking courses online (such as Systems Thinking in MITx), reading books focused on problem-solving (Bulletproof Problem Solving), and taking up activities such as debating and business competitions for graduates willing to get into the finance/consultancy sector.
Many graduates in Bangladesh do lack a lot of soft skills, which is due to the fact that the curricula in many Bangladeshi universities are set in a way that a student can graduate without having any significant interpersonal as well as computer-related skills. Although the situation is improving as more and more universities are updating their curricula to keep up with the global perspective, it is still not enough.
Sheikh Tausif Ahmed, a final year student of Economics at the University of Dhaka, expressed his own opinion about the skills that a student must have before graduating. He said, "A student should be proficient in communication. This is an obvious one, yet many students lack this skill. You should be able to communicate with your colleagues, teammates, and family members freely, which will make life a lot easier. Related to this are the skills of giving presentations and conducting interviews. Having good communication skills will help you in both. "
Sheikh Tausif also emphasised the importance of writing skills along with a sound proficiency in English in students, as the latter comes in handy in situations ranging from writing an email to writing an official report. He also said that technical skills are, in fact, quite important and students should acquire technical skills as per their specific field. Some generalised technical skills like data processing and management, communication, and graphics should be acquired by graduates irrespective of their preferences.
Although graduates willing to go to different fields might have to acquire different sets of skills, some skills are universally sought after by employers from university graduates. Hence, it is important for students to focus on skills development along with their academic progress in university life.
The writer is a third-year student at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka. [email protected]