Skills Demand in ICT Job Market: Microsoft’s Initiative and Opportunities for Bangladesh
Engr. Mohd. Abdul Mannan/ Adviser – TVET, Save the Children
Today the world is in a boundless and unprecedented shock due to COVID-19. Public health in every corner of the world is in great threat. The job market is being profoundly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. ILO estimates over 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy have already lost their jobs or in threat to lose their jobs. Microsoft estimates global unemployment may reach a quarter of a billion in 2020 .
Countries are struggling to coming back to normalcy in life with the ‘new normal’. We are observing and experiencing a new culture of doing work – working from home, remote work, flexible workplace, etc. We are greatly experiencing technological transformations. Mr. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft has rightly said, “We have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”
It is quite understandable that in the ‘new normal’ situation, the jobs that do come back will take different look – people will return to an even more digital economy.
According to Microsoft, by the end of 2025, around 149 million new technology-oriented jobs will be created globally. Software development accounts for the largest single share (66%) of this estimate, but roles in related fields such as data analysis, cyber security, and privacy protection are also poised to grow significantly.
Global Skills Initiative declared by Microsoft
To meet-up the demand of the job market and provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities around the world, Microsoft has launched a Global Skills Initiative on 30 June 2020. The immediate aim of this initiative is to produce 25 million digital skilled workforces around the world by the end of 2020. Under this scheme, people are getting free access tosome selected highly demanded online digital courses of LinkedIn and Microsoft Learning platforms.
Skills demand in ICT job market in Bangladesh
ICT was declared as thrust sector in 2015 and government has taken various initiatives for this sector – establishing number of Hi-tech cities and IT parks are vital. The total industry size estimated to be around USD 400 million. Approximately 70,000 professionals – the majority IT and other graduates – are employed in the industry. In addition, around 600,000 to 700,000 freelancers are working in the digital outsourcing market and their annual earning is around USD 500 to 600 million .
A survey conducted by Daffodil International University (DIU) in 2018 identified 13 job-roles that have high demand at entry-level jobs in ICT sector in Bangladesh.
On the other hand, avery recent study of BRAC published on 30 July 2020 reveals some insights. The study did not make any attempt to project numerical demand of skilled manpower in any specific skills-set, but gave a glance view about the skills-set required in the job market. Below is a summary of their findings based on the IT skills needed in the backend, frontend and freelancing job market.
– Software development
– Web design and development
– Graphic design
– Hardware, server installation and maintenance
– Data analytics
– Database administration
– Software testing and quality assurance
– MS office suite (digital literacy)
– ERP development, etc.
In the early period of COVID-19, almost 80% freelancers of the country remained out of work, but now situations are improving.A recent study titled “Post COVID-19 Jobs and Skills in Bangladesh” conducted by Access to Information (a2i) projected that around 650,000 and 90,000 jobs will be created in ICT and Creative media sub-sectors respectively in the country by 2021.
How can we take advantage of this Global Digital Skills Initiative?
Bangladesh has a highest unemployment rate (11.2%) among the youths with tertiary education (LFS 2016-17, BBS). Another study conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) shows that around 39% of university graduates are unemployed. This huge educated unemployed youth needs to be transformed into skilled manpower to achieve the development vision of the country.
We need to change our focus from so-called jobs in the local markets to digital freelancing job markets in the global arena. Because, today digital freelancing has emerged as a significant source of primary and secondary employment in all major industries, giving virtually all companies access to new freelancers.
As we discussed in the beginning of this article on the global skills initiative declared by Microsoft, LinkedIn and GitHub, our youth generation (or anyone) can easily avail this opportunity and acquire digital skills to prepare themselves for the digital job markets. I would like to make here some specific recommendations so that the most vulnerable and marginalized youth job seekers of this country can access to this opportunity and be benefited.
n Campaign: We need to disseminate the information of the global skills initiative at all levels to make people aware and encourage people to avail this opportunity.
n Reduce cost for internet data package: People needs computer and internet connectivity to access the courses. For low income people, vulnerable and marginalized youths, the cost for internet data package might be a barrier. So, internet providers and cell phone operators can come forward to provide internet connectivity at a reduced cost or free of cost for the most vulnerable and marginalized youth. Concerned authorities can play vital role to negotiate this matter with the telephone operators and internet providers.
n Access to computer labs: Due to COVID-19 pandemic, all educational institutes are now closed. But, government can take initiatives to re-open ICT/computer labs at all educational institutes at a limited scale so that interested students and would-be graduates can access the courses.
n One-to-one mentorship: Besides the above recommendations, I would like to make another recommendation to individual level. We know there are hundreds of tech-experts in our country. Many of them may be self-motivated, enthusiastic and manage their time to identify at least one vulnerable youth around them and provide one-to-one coaching/mentorship support to teach the digital skills on the LinkedIn and Microsoft learning platforms.