A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labour market, skills training and workforce development. This week’s round up is drawn from The Independent and The Daily Star. Here is the news for the week ending 14th April 2016.
This week in the Bangladesh English Press…
…Digitisation in multiple sectors could drive enormous growth in the future, if the labour market can keep up. Inefficiencies in the tannery relocation process and in vegetable export processes is creating headaches in valuable industries. Farmers lose out to flooding related damage. Sawmills could face risks as they lack proper licenses.
Digitisation fuelling the Economy
Digitisation is creating more employment and income opportunities through e-shops and e-services. Digital services are being extended to governance, education, agriculture, and health at multiple levels of government. This offers more opportunities for small and medium sized business to connect with investors, customers, markets, and other services to broaden their business. The Government hopes that Bangladesh can reach a satisfactory level of digitisation by 2021, as part of its vision to become a middle-income country by that point.
Digitisation has also created a large market for outsourcing in Bangladesh. Many IT firms around the world are outsourcing their work to Bangladeshi based firms, however there is a fear that not enough highly trained technicians and insufficient internet infrastructure will slow the ability of Bangladesh to meet the demand. Industry leaders are calling for more investments in internet connectivity and training opportunities for youth and young adults to learn IT related skills at a high level.
Tanneries Continue to be Delayed
Workers and machinery lie idle as the relocation to the Savar Tannery Industrial City remains bogged down due to gas, water, and sewerage facilities not being available yet. There is both pressure from the government to relocate, which has been met by the hurried transportation of thousands of raw hide, thousands of extra man-hours, and lost profits, and deficiencies at the central effluent treatment plant (CETP). The Chinese company in charge of installing the supporting infrastructure has cited conflict with the managing authorities of the CETP as reasons for stopping construction, however the situation remains unclear. As the process continues to be bogged down, workers wonder when and if they will get back to work, and whether or not their hides will survive this period of idleness.
Lost Crop Profits
Vegetable exporters will be getting a separate scanner at the airport next Sunday. Since direct cargo from Dhaka to the UK was banned, scanners have had to be introduced at the airport, however they have caused a large slowdown in the process of getting food from trucks onto planes. Delays at the airport caused large losses as vegetable producers were forced to sell them at low prices in local markets. Industry leaders are worried that this pattern could lead to lost work orders, wasting man-hours and lost profits. Other industries are also taking look, anticipating delays and possible losses at the airport if this level of security spreads to other exporting industries.
Farmers face heavy damage to crops as a collapsed embankment caused high levels of salinity. Over 500 farmers face serious crop damage, which came at the worst time. Many of them believed they were about to receive a bumper yield of different produce such as watermelon, chilli, and dal amongst others. It has been a frustrating experience for these farmers as they try to recoup their losses.
All 206 sawmills around the country have been operating without a license due to the forest department’s “relaxed” approach to monitoring. Many sawmills have been prodded to renew licenses, however they have never felt the need to. The cost of a license is Tk 2,000, while the yearly renewal is only Tk 500. Even as these unlicensed sawmills are being exposed, it is unsure what sorts of action the authorities will take, and therefore unsure what the fate of the sawmills, their product, and their workers face.