The Fourth Industrial Revolution is giving a new dimension to world civilisation. The process and potential of this revolution are already being widely discussed around the world. Discussions are also taking place in our country. The Honourable Prime Minister and her Information and Communication Technology Adviser have been working tirelessly to create skilled manpower for making Bangladesh suitable for leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
As we know, the 4IR is the fusion of physical, digital and biological spheres. Here physical is the human, biological is nature and digital is the technology. It is becoming difficult to separate these three. What is happening as a result? What kind of change is happening in society? As a result, intellectualisation is taking place, the human-machine is interfacing, and realism and virtuality are becoming one. Now if we want to prepare for our fourth industrial revolution, we have to put things like emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence and content intelligence in our heads.
The Government of Bangladesh has given utmost importance to technical education. In the future not only Bangladesh, but the whole world will need more skilled manpower. Those who go abroad have to become proficient in technical matters. And that is why our education system has to be changed with the importance given to technical education. The government is assisting the non-governmental organisations which are imparting technical training. Skilled manpower is most important for building a country and we are working to create skilled manpower. The government is trying to create trained manpower in such a way that they can compete anywhere in the competitive world of today and utilise the opportunities of the 4IR.
The First Industrial Revolution began with the discovery of railways, steam engines, and the use of machinery in production. The Second Industrial Revolution began with power generation. The Third Industrial Revolution is also known as the computer or digital revolution. Small powerful sensors, mobile internet, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are the main forces of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The machine is being made intelligent through artificial intelligence or machine learning. The capacity of the device is much higher than the human brain and the processing capacity is much faster too. Due to the Internet, the scope of its activities has expanded a lot. An intelligent computer sitting in Bangladesh can command an instrument from any country, measure the temperature of a room, and order to increase or decrease the temperature.
However, there is a need for people to provide services that require a human touch. On the other hand, there is a need for merit-based professionals such as programmers for artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT), etc. The demand for skilled people is increasing with technology.
People can one day send or receive various information through the internet by rubbing their clothes. Computer processing capacity is increasing and prices are decreasing. Sensors or chips are being used in various electrical appliances and they can communicate with each other. It is the Internet of Things or IoT that can send messages to people through the Internet. There is a lot of research being done on IoT in the developed world. Through the internet your car, home, AC, fridge will be turned on automatically at the specified time, setting the desired temperature in the room. The robot will be able to make ready your breakfast in the microwave oven from the fridge. The fridge will be able to scan food stored inside it, consider eating habits and place orders whenever required in online e-commerce. Even chips are going to be placed in the body of the animal in which the physical condition of the cattle, disease, breeding season, etc. are known in advance, and action is taken accordingly.
Digitisation is now creating a lot of data, where you are going, where you are spending time, your smart car is getting the data. Your bank account, mobile, wallet, credit card can match your expenses. Now we see smartphones, smart TVs have data. These data could not be saved earlier. Now saving in the cloud is easy and low cost. Because of its fast-processing power, computers can easily analyse these data and make decisions. Driverless cars will be relatively safe and efficient. They will also reduce traffic jams and pollution and the need for drivers will be reduced.
In 2019, the a2i Program and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) identified six areas in a joint survey aimed at identifying the possibilities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These are the transformation of the traditional education system, inclusive innovation, development of research and development, simplification of government policies, utilisation of skills of expatriate Bangladeshis, and branding of Bangladesh as an innovative nation. In the light of this survey, various initiatives including cooperation in innovation at the school level, teaching programming are being implemented. About a year ago, the Department of Information and Communication Technology started training on 10 modern technologies to create skilled people. These initiatives are making us hopeful of turning the risk of the 4IR into a possibility.
Once the organisation identifies a skills gap, reskilling and upskilling training programs can better position the organisation for expected workforce changes as well as provide a path for workers so they don’t become displaced by technology. AI and automation may be replacing many jobs, but they are also creating new ones. Around the world, many employers who are already struggling and existing in a mismatch between youth skills and employer needs threaten to become even wider as the industry transforms business and jobs faster than workers can adapt.
Technology has allowed us to connect to the far reaches but if it cannot be harnessed to connect people to high-quality jobs with proper education and training, then the repercussions could be experienced broadly. Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems on the horizon if we fail to train the next generation of workers which the digitally driven economy will usher in.
It’s time to invest in new innovative ideas and approaches for upskilling youths for the future of work not in a vacuum, but in a coordinated way. Improving the potential employment outcomes for youths’ demand that businesses, government and other key players cooperate to align educational initiatives, workforce development programs, and public policy.
People are not equipped for the work that needs to be done and the opportunities facing 4IR. It also outlines recommendations that are taken together - as coordinated action between the organisation and other stakeholders create a strong framework for advancing the cause. But it’s more than just a collection of ideas.
In the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IT sector in Bangladesh has emphasised various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh is trying to be in the top 50 countries in the UN e-Governance Development Index in the next five years. Five initiatives of Digital Bangladesh have been praised internationally. These are Digital Center, Service Innovation Fund, Empathy Training, TCV and SDG Tracker.
With the help of information technology, young people are building small and big IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other organisations. Besides, some big achievements including the Bangabandhu satellite of Bangladesh in space have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the world.
The writer is a Research Fellow, BNNRC