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Tackling the ageing conundrum

  • Published at 11:59 pm February 22nd, 2019
Are they worth acquiring?
Are they worth acquiring? / BIGSTOCK

We need to equip Bangladeshis with skills as per global demand

One of the proud features highlighted by the developing world is their young population. Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Africa as a whole are lip-licking attractions for worldwide producers of consumer products with an array that ranges from clothing through cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. 

In a strange way, the developed world suffers from the absence of young population because unproductive longevity is on the rise, lesser taxes for pensioners are available, and social changes are doing away with family life and progeny, and has accumulated a propensity for lonelier lives.

Migration is an ugly word these days though it is said that opportunities do exist for high-skilled individuals that plug the gaps. There are other gaps -- the ones for labour-intensive low-skill jobs, and governments are in a quandary with regards to how they can manage. 

What younger people are available shy away from such jobs and prefer the benefits of safety nets even as they line up at unemployment centres. The UK is trying to change matters by changing their social benefits to force people to take on such jobs but the initiative is a killer when it comes to the election manifestos. 

Scandinavia is one of the worst affected when it comes to finding people willing to do menial jobs, partly due to social esteem and partly due to low wages issues. Yet, all these countries with dwindling populations are averse to allowing migrants. 

Their fear lies in a shattering of the fabric of their society and the increasing crimes that are being traced back to migrants. 

This in turn has led to developing countries spending scarce resources in updating skills that match not only their own requirements but also that of countries abroad. The Asian Development Bank has set aside $200 million on skills training for seven sectors in Bangladesh. These trained personnel should ideally be eased into jobs in relevant sectors. And that’s where they hit the brickwall. 

Compensation levels are just not commensurate with the newly-acquired skill levels and therefore, create a view that those very skills are “not worth it.” One example is the technical and vocational skills training that teaches basic skills.

But those equipped require megaphones to announce their availability by trekking the streets rather than be able to afford homes of their own. Not to mention, remuneration is also poor.

Had they been based in higher-income countries, basic wage structures would have allowed them a better way of life.

But whatever the dangers to this fabric of society, the changing communities in Europe are demanding younger bodies to replace those seeking the high life of the cities. And then there’s the case of Japan, where longevity has had so much success that they’ve run out of care-givers and youths to man their industries. 

The result has been a slowdown in productivity to the extent that the sacred Japanese morning meeting is giving way to English sessions to cater to the immigrant population and a new law that allows for limited numbers of migrants to work there legally. 

True, foreign expatriates with higher skills stand to benefit more. That’s where the Asian Development Program’s training must go a step beyond just equipping Bangladeshis with skills, beyond what’s merely needed here, and look to what is in global demand. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.