POST TIME: 31 March, 2020 12:54:20 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 31 March, 2020 12:54:38 PM
Education for job
Automation in apparel and garments industries may throw tens and thousands of workers out of job
Sayed Ahmed

Education for job

Bangladesh is facing severe crisis of unemployment for two categories of people: first, the educated youths with bachelor and master degrees fail to get jobs with their majors. As a result, they force themselves to take unmatched jobs or go for professional degrees after sixteen years of formal study. The moment they should start earning and helping families as well as the country, they look desperately for highly demanding professional degrees, basically business degrees to fit in the current job market. Second, the uneducated women who are losing jobs from apparel and readymade garment factories due to automation of the factories. This article proposes reformation in the education policy of the country that will equip youths with skills to be entrepreneurs as well as provide vulnerable women with means for sustenance.
Automation in apparel and garments industries may throw tens and thousands of workers out of job. Machines and robots ensure accelerated profit for owners but they downsize jobs for poor workers. Workers’ day-long toiling task is now carried out by machines within a few hours. Several factors encourage factory owners to opt for machines e.g. advancement of technology, labor unrest, rise of labor cost, etc.2016 International Labor Organization study titled “ASEAN in Transformation” predicted that some Asian nations could lose more than 80 per cent of their garment, textile and apparel manufacturing jobs as automation spreads.Analysts estimate it needs roughly two million new jobs a year to keep pace with its expanding labor force, with garments offering many of the best opportunities.Yet the number of new jobs added by the garment and textile trades has fallen to 60,000 a year, from over 300,000 annually between 2003 and 2010, according to World Bank data. Government statistics show a crucial part of the supply chain—the production of basic textiles—is already seeing an outright decline in jobs.Bangladesh’s apparel production, meanwhile, keeps surging, with help from automation, local business leaders say. From 2013 to mid-2016, annual Bangladeshi garment exports increased by 19.5 per cent, according to figures from the leading garment industry. Garment sector jobs increased by 4.5 per cent over the same period, government statistics show.Thus, automation of factories without proper rehabilitation plans tosses tens and thousands of workers out of job, a big share goes to poor, uneducated women. In the current Bangladesh, there is not any second industry that can accommodate this huge amount of workforce. And the results of this forced unemployment may be disastrous including fall of law and order, even rise of prostitution.

Now let’s have a look at youth unemployment in a country where there is at least one university college that offers bachelor and master degrees at every nook and corner. The current higher education policy is creating thousands of educated higher degree holding jobless people and ruining the economy of the country. Universities offer bachelor and master’s degrees in less demanding disciplines that have not enough job opportunities in the country. Thus,the country is losing huge youth workforce. With graduate degrees in such disciplines, students fail to get jobs after a total of 17 years of education. So they take up undermining jobs or go to school again for professional degrees or drive in the competition for government jobs. If people fail to utilize earned knowledge practice, what is the use of money and efforts of the government to produce graduates of those disciplines? Is it not misuse of people’s money?  Due to the lack of government patronization and other supports, youths don’t dare to take the risk of innovation and entrepreneurship.

We need the education policies that equip our youths with enough knowledge and skills to get employed at home and abroad. They can also take up projects as entrepreneurs. Financial support from public-private sector through easy and low-interest loans can boost our industry, especially small-scale industries.  Everybody does not need university degrees but a huge number of people need jobs just after ten years of schooling which can be possible with vocational diplomas. Two to three year diplomas after secondary school certificate (SSC) may provide the youths with jobs at home and abroad. For example, they can work in the Middle Eastern countries that have rising demands for technicians in hospitals and factories. The youths with a two to three year diploma in vocational or technical disciplines will get better earning and secured living than the graduates with bachelor and master degrees that major in non-technical and less-demanding disciplines e.g. Philosophy, Social Science, Islamic History, Physics, Chemistry, Botany and many others. With poor admission tests, backdated curriculum, substandard teacher recruitment polices and lack of sufficient infrastructural support, National University has produced tens of thousands of unskilled graduates through its 2300 affiliated colleges that have basically, with a thin number of exception, added to the bulk of unemployed and frustrated making huge burden on families, the nation and above all on themselves. At least two thirds of the colleges should be turned into vocational institutes to cater professionalas well as vocational degrees.

Modifying education policies and supporting youths with easy loans can fight unemployment and boost our economy.

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent