Bangladesh's population size is about 160.41 million. The median age of Bangladeshi population is 26, which means the country's population is dominated by young people. It is high time to make use of the demographic resource. But the fact is that there are about three million working age people who are unemployed in the country; they are neither in education nor in job. An additional 2.20 million educated young people are entering the job market every year. Another 10.6 million people are day-labourers or are in odd jobs without any job security. Many educated youths are unemployed and are finding it difficult to manage employment. One hundred plus universities are producing thousands of business graduates in Bangladesh every year. But how many of them are getting suitable placements in the job market?
Business study is one of the oldest, richest and contributory faculties in academic arena. It incorporates practical market-oriented as well as result-worthy topics in its syllabus. The faculty of business studies in the country started with accounting, management and marketing etc., as basic subjects. But in the process of evolution it enlarged its horizon by incorporating more specialised subjects like financial management, human resource management, marketing management, operations management, business communications, sales management, consumer behaviour, customer relationship management, cost accounting, banking, business policy, marketing research, business research etc.
In the second phase of its evolution, business studies faculties offered more professional sunjects like chartered accountancy, chartered secretaries, financial analysts, international trade management, trade negotiation, economic integration, insurance management, bank management, freight forwarding, indenting, procurement management, logistics management, inventory management etc. With the passage of time, it is expected that business faculties will be enriched further by adopting newer subjects as demanded by the business world.
Business education gained newer momentum in Bangladesh with the establishment of private universities in late 90s offering BBA, MBA degrees. At the very beginning these degrees were popular. But with the changing pattern of business dynamics, BBA and MBA degree holders are also fighting to manage suitable careers. Now, is it fair to ask if the country is producing more business graduates than required? If it is so, then the obvious question is-- why is it paying more than US$ 10 billion by employing foreign mid-level managers here? Bangladesh is earning US$ 15 billion remittance per year by sending about 10 million unskilled and semi-skilled workers abroad, but paying more than US$ 10 billion on recruitment of fewer than half a million foreign professionals. It is time to rethink why we are unable to fill-up these positions with local professionals.
Academics have to revisit the course curriculum of Bangladesh business schools to produce industry-oriented professionals. At the same time, practical courses have to be introduced by the chambers and business associations. Some steps are being taken. However, more should be done. The DCCI Business Institute (DBI) is presently offering International Certificates, Advanced Certificate and Diploma Courses in Supply Chain Management (SCM) under the Modular Learning System (MLS) of International Trade Centre (ITC), UNCTAD/WTO. DBI is conducting the course with resource persons mainly from corporate arena with practical knowledge of the issues. DBI produced about 1,000 professionals here in Bangladesh, certified by ITC. All of them are employed in the leading corporations at home and abroad. These courses are truly globally recognised by governments and leading enterprises in 69 countries and 120 institutions. Similar practices may be taken up by universities and training institutes.
Finally, it is important that the government, academics and policymakers think seriously about the mounting numbers of unemployed educated youths entering the job market every year. Effective mechanism should be adopted to ensure that the education provided by universities is more demand-driven and industry-oriented.
Md Joynal Abdin is Acting Secretary, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry Views expressed in the article are the writers' own.
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