Five things can change Bangladesh with 8-10pc growth, Manmohan Parkash tells Dhaka Courier
Skills development is the third binding constraint to economic growth in Bangladesh after connectivity (transport) and energy. About two million people enter the labor force every year but there is capacity to train only around 500,000 people per year. The labor force is expected to grow from 56.7 million in 2010 to around 78 million by 2025.
Country Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Manmohan Parkash thinks Bangladesh has tremendous potentials with its economy growing at 7 to 8 percent currently but the growth can become 8-10 percent if people are trained with the right education.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt,” he told Dhaka Courier expressing the optimism that Bangladesh will be known as a ‘technically advanced nation’ producing large ships through development of skills.
“It’s (shipbuilding) a hidden gem,” said the Country Director of ADB after visiting Western Marine Shipyard at Patiya upazila of Chattogram district where he witnessed progress under the ADB-assisted skills for employment investment programme.
Parkash highlighted five things -- good policymaking, good tech management, investing in infrastructure, investing skills and human capital; and embracing the new technologies for better Bangladesh with a stronger economy.
“These five things can make Bangladesh a well-developed country. That’s a dream I have, that’s a passion you have. We can work together to really make Bangladesh a beautiful and wonderful country,” he said.
Parkash, a professional with over 32 years of experience, oversees the implementation of the ADB Country Partnership Strategy for Bangladesh (2016-2020).
Responding to another question, he said Bangladesh is a very blessed country and it is a land of opportunities.
“The only thing it needs is to harness the endowment it has. It has so many endowments. One of the biggest endowments is its people. You have young population. You have such youths who are hungry for knowledge and who have a passion to do something good for tomorrow,” Parkash said.
And, he added, they (young people) want to build a good Bangladesh for their own, for their children and grandchildren.
Explaining how Bangladesh can do it, Parkash said Bangladesh can do it by training them with good teachers.
“And you can do it by having people like you have at Western Marine Shipyard Limited Ltd who have really brought these people from remote areas and giving them an opportunity so that they can become people to stand up on their own feet gaining skills,” he said.
Parkash, who joined the ADB in 2002, said the quality of wielding and the quality of technical things that he saw display that they are not less than anybody.
The other advantage of Bangladesh, he said, is that the cost will be much less compared to the international one which means Bangladesh can easily capture the international market.
“Why should I go and buy expensive technology from the West when I can produce the technology taking advantage of using my own people? I can export this technology to the West and other countries,” Parkash said sharing what Bangladesh can do.
Talking about the importance of skill development in Bangladesh, he said the ADB is really the pioneer of skill development, and Bangladesh needs technical and vocational education much more now.
Parkash said shipbuilding is a unique industry and it is really teaching people how to do wielding maintaining the international standard and the certification is specially done by an international certification agency.
“So, these wielders not only can build ships here for us, they can also build ships for outsiders. They’re now building ships for Norway, a developed country. What will be a more proud moment for Bangladesh that ships built in Bangladesh to be exported to Norway, and Norway will use that,” he said.
Parkash said Bangladesh started building ships at the right moment and it is good to see Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also been giving a lot of importance to inland waterways and coastal shipping with other countries.
He laid emphasis on taking advantage of Bangladesh’s location since it is at a place where Asean countries are on the East, India is on Bangladesh’s West and in South Bangladesh has got China.
Managing Director of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd M Sakhawat Hossain said Bangladesh will continue to make its presence stronger in the international shipbuilding market through enhancing its productivity and developing skills.
He said the investment in skill development generated more jobs and it is boosting the image of Bangladesh and adding values in a big way.
“We can have stronger presence in global market as we’re saying -- shirt to ship,” he told UNB sharing their success stories and how they took the Bangladesh flag to the global market with ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tag.
Executive Project Director of Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) Jalal Ahmed said they are working on SEIP-2 which will begin from 2021 as the project is helping the country boost national productivity.
The main components of SEIP are to scale up training in six priority sectors -- garments and textile, leather and footwear, construction, light engineering, IT and shipbuilding by engaging the respective industry associations and Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) along with better performing public training institutions.
Chief Coordinator, training programme of Association of Export Oriented Shipbuilding Industries of Bangladesh (AEOSIB) with SEIP, Captain Mohammed Habibur Rahman said a total of 7328 people were enrolled of them 5625 have already been assessed.
“So far, our success rate is 88.53 percent,” he said shrining the success stories in the areas of wielding and fabrication, electrical and navigation, machine tools operation, machinery installation, painting and piping.