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Automation may cost 5.38m jobs by 2041

Leading local ICT specialist warns

FE Report | December 13, 2018 00:00:00

Bangladesh is at the risk of losing 5.38 million jobs by 2041, thanks to the fast growth of automation, a leading local ICT specialist has warned.

At the same time, 7.4 million overseas jobs for Bangladeshi expatriates may also be at risk for the same reason, he cautioned.

"Around 60 per cent jobs of the local readymade garment industry might go by 2041," said Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of the Access to Information (a2i) Programme.

In absolute numbers, this would translate to 2.7 million jobs, the ICT expert said during a keynote presentation at the Digital Bangladesh Day events in the capital on Wednesday.

"At the same time, 35 per cent jobs of leather, 40 per cent of agro-processing, 55 per cent of furniture and 20 per cent of tourism industries risk being extinct."

Mr Anir highlighted that automation even poses a greater threat to migrant workers as around 7.4 million overseas jobs are at the risk of annihilation.

The total number of Bangladeshi expatriate workers is expected to reach 20 million by 2041, he added.

"However, 90 per cent drivers, 80 per cent cleaners, 75 per cent industrial workers, 45 per cent construction workers and 35 per cent restaurant workers risk losing jobs by 2041 due to automation."

The only way out for us, in this context, is to make our workforce ready for fourth industrial revolution," said the adviser of the PMO's a2i programme.

"And for that, we have to re-skill 45 million people, provide better skills to eight million people and need to offer new skills to 20 million," he added.

"Digital marketing, automated food processing, cyber security, data analytics, 3D printer operator, engineering, modelling and simulation expert, robot operator and block chain professional would be the jobs of the future."

Reflecting on these findings, speakers at the event emphasised upgrading the country's skill base.

"Currently, we're not able to provide enough jobs for the young population," said former telecoms and ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar.

"Then, how would we be able to create jobs for the people once the forth industrial revolution is put in full motion?" he posed a question.

"Automation may challenge the local RMG workforce even within the next three to five years," said Syed Almas Kabir, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

"We need to attain new skills. We need skill 4.0 for industrial revolution 4.0," he added.

Wahid Sharif, president of Bangladesh Association of Call Center and Outsourcing, said, "We need to review our policies and legal framework, including labour laws as per the dynamics of automation and robotics."

Earlier during the inauguration of the daylong event, Finance Minister AMA Muhith highlighted the critical role played by the youth in digitising the nation.

"Bangladesh can be a model of piloting mass digitisation to the whole world," he said.

Former science and technology minister Yeafesh Osman, post and telecommunications secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder and ICT division secretary Juena Aziz, among others, also spoke.

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