Policy Hackathon: Future of Work facilitates young leaders to find practical solutions to the challenges of work
An idea that was initially developed in the STEM area, Policy Hackathons have garnered a significant amount of attention in different fields. These events allow relevant players of a field to put their heads together and devise solutions for common challenges. This has resulted in innumerable clever ideas being shaped and implemented in real-life scenarios.
The success of similar events of the past led to IID organizing a virtual Policy Hackathon, in partnership with Youth for Policy, from August 18 to 22, creating an opportunity for open dialogue between policymakers, young professionals and future leaders to discuss policies that can help shape a better work environment under various possible scenarios.
Policy Hackathon: Future of Work enabled 24 young leaders from across the country to come together with policymakers and experts in the field and brainstorm new ideas that can positively impact the future of employment. It also enabled the youth to find a space for collaboration and innovation, to come up with solutions for policies that deal with employment, skills and entrepreneurship for future leaders.
Following a panel discussion, a workshop was conducted to zero in on three particular issues: Youth entrepreneurial initiatives, youth employment opportunities and youth skills for the future of work. At the beginning of the workshop, the participants mapped out how they envisioned the future of work for Bangladesh to be in 2030, based on the topic assigned to them. Afterwards, the participants sketched out four alternative scenarios of the future of work in Bangladesh in 2030. The first scenario, called “Business-as-usual”, depicted Bangladesh’s probable future of work, assuming that the state of policy implementation, opportunities and resources remain unchanged. The second scenario, called "Worst case," depicted a possible but improbable future of work in the event of uncertain circumstances such as an economic slowdown or a war. The third scenario, "Outlier," depicted the future of work under unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters, in Bangladesh. The teams illustrated their preferred future of work in the fourth scenario, which was dubbed "Best-case scenario," which can be possible with effective policy execution and a plethora of opportunities and resources provided.
At the end of the workshop, Shakil Ahmed, an educator, storyteller and futurist of Ridiculous Futures presented the participants with a number of policy tests to ensure that the policy solutions they suggested could, indeed, be implemented in any of the four possible scenarios. He also advised the participants on how to make their presentations more focused, informative and visually appealing.
The teams spent the next three days preparing policy briefs based on evidence-based research that they conducted, incorporating the input they received from the mentors. To start making their visions of the future of work a reality, the teams suggested a total of nine policy options that could be adapted and be applicable for any of the four possible future of work scenarios.
On the final day of the event, the teams presented their policy briefs to an expert panel of judges, which included Mahjabeen Khaled, Former MP and Member of Parliamentary Youth Caucus; Anindya Dutta, Regional Programme Officer, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Shakil Ahmed, an educator, storyteller and futurist, and Syeed Ahamed, CEO of IID.
Team Employment’s suggestions included MSMEs being facilitated by policies that integrate universities' research institutes and financial institutions, and that employers provide equal opportunities for men, women, and third gender employees and entrepreneurs in order to eliminate gender inequality. They also suggested agriculture transitioning to high-value commercial crops in order to create new employment opportunities at the grassroots level, and that labour market demand and need-based analysis are undertaken on a regular basis.
Team Entrepreneur’s policy briefs factored in the ongoing pandemic, in light of which they suggested the interest rate on microloans should be reduced to 6%, and the amount of tax imposed on businesses should be reduced from 15% to 10%-12%. Moreover, the process of obtaining collateral loans should be simplified.
They also proposed establishing Entrepreneurial Institutes in Bangladeshi universities and incorporating entrepreneurship education in the curriculum. To develop trust between consumers and sellers, this team recommended online businesses to be listed, with all entrepreneurial information stored on an official website.
Lastly, Team Skills put forward the idea that governmental and non-governmental smart investments in research, innovation and skills training in universities be increased, and 3% of the total GDP be allocated for education by 2025. Lab facilities in every district and subdistrict should be increased to facilitate skill training for the youth. They emphasized the curriculum being updated to prepare students for the job market, and skill-driven compulsory courses, such as entrepreneurship, be included to better integrate future Bangladeshi industries and academic collaboration. They also proposed arranging two to four days of self-chosen activities and self-directed education at schools every week, where the teachers can facilitate the optimization of the student's natural abilities. Modern TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutions should also be established, they concluded, through a strong public-private partnership to promote job-driven skills and training to create more skilled manpower.
After an hour of deliberation between the judges, Team Skills was declared as the winner, while Team Entrepreneurship and Team Employment were declared the 1st and 2nd runners-up respectively. All the teams were applauded for the innovation and hard work they had demonstrated to formulate smart and effective policy solutions that could improve the future of work in Bangladesh.