Putting more effort into ICT skills

— Data DB

INFORMATION and communications technology in Bangladesh is emerging. It creates new forms of work and changes the structure of jobs. The researchers estimate that in five years, the ICT sector will contribute 1% to gross domestic product and create jobs for 150,000 ICT professionals. Additionally, to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 which emphasizes inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all, information technology and communication can play a supporting role. But there is a lack of quality education and training. Affluent people can take training in various expensive centers, but the disadvantaged cannot afford to attend such centers. There is therefore a need to achieve ICT skills development programs for disadvantaged youth at minimum cost.

The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Informatics is responsible for the development and promotion of the ICT sector. Bangladesh’s first ICT policy was developed in 2002, revised in 2008 and finally adopted by the government in April 2009. It focuses on major social advancement opportunities for disadvantaged groups as a priority to minimize economic disparities . It mainly includes low-income groups, ethnic minorities, women, and people with disabilities and special needs.

The progress made so far in ICT education is remarkable. The teaching of ICT is now made compulsory in secondary and upper secondary education. Already, hundreds of multimedia classrooms have been implemented in schools and an online multimedia classroom monitoring dashboard process has been launched in many schools and colleges. Moreover, thousands of computer labs have already been set up in many schools and colleges. ICT teachers are gradually providing training in information and communication technologies.

To create an ICT-based society and a skilled generation, many ICT teaching positions have also been created in public colleges. The online admission procedure is ongoing in public schools, colleges and universities. ICT cells have been set up in universities to carry out ICT-related activities. However, research shows that Bangladesh faces some challenges in providing comprehensive ICT training like ensuring power supply, building e-learning infrastructure, high-speed internet connection, lack of advanced ICT accessories , intellectual property rights, etc.

Studies and reports highlight the importance of qualified human resources. For example, a UNESCO report on ICT experiences in the Asia and Pacific region highlights the importance of an integrated approach to ICT policy, which combines investment in hardware alongside to the sustainable professional development of teachers, the integration of ICT into the curriculum and programs and close monitoring and evaluation of activities. The UNESCO report mentions that an integrated approach is essential to avoid costly project failures.

A clear positive trend in the number of computer science graduates entering the labor force has been observed over the past few years. Research shows that currently, the number of IT professionals working in Bangladesh is around 0.22 million, and it is estimated that the demand for the necessary human resources will double by 2025. Another research shows that around 75,000 students will need ICT training by 2025 and the labor demand in the ICT sector would be 5.915 lakh by 2025. However, around 40% of required IT positions remain vacancies due to skills shortages in the industry. There is a huge need for ICT professionals in the industries and without producing quality ICT professionals, industry growth and investments are likely to be severely affected in the future.

Currently, graduates provided by formal educational institutions lack the skills required for industry and although each year around 10,000 IT graduates enter the market, most of them are not well accustomed to the needs of industry due to lack of proper training and industry orientation. education. Thus, the industries sector faces the shortage of a solid pool of qualified human resources in information and communication technologies, which is hampering the expected growth of the industry.

Thus, immediate attention to the development of skills in information and communication technologies is necessary to stimulate the national economy and for long-term socio-economic development. In this regard, appropriate training policies and programs need to be adopted to alleviate the current shortage of skilled manpower in the ICT sector as well as to meet the future demand of Bangladesh through an integrated approach to skills policy. TIC. The policy should cover investment in materials and also focus on the sustainable professional development of teachers. Some information and communication technology training programs can be taken by government and non-governmental organizations to train the current workforce as well as job seekers to meet immediate needs.

For current students who are future employees, government and/or donor funded projects are needed for Bangladesh with the aim of (a) developing a technical and information environment to support educational reform; (b) ensure that information and communication technologies are widely used in education; and (c) improve teaching and learning processes.

In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to develop the following basic strategies in the proposed projects: (a) the development of the necessary infrastructure at all levels of education; (b) intensive training of teachers in the use of information and communication technologies as a resource for teaching; (c) training of heads of institutions in information and communication technologies; (d) training students in the use of information and communication technologies as a learning resource; (e) produce educational software tailored to curriculum requirements; (f) stimulate open and distance learning in support of information and communication technologies; and (g) involving the private sector in the acquisition of equipment and materials for teacher training.

Md Mahmud Hassan Talukdar is an urban planner, policy researcher and development professional.