Graduates are struggling in the job market as the conventional education system does not equip students with the skills industries demand, according to Rizwan Rahman, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).
Bangladesh has a labour force of about 6.35 crore which is growing at 2.2 per cent, meaning that there are around 20 lakh new entrants every year.
However, 38.6 per cent of the graduates face unemployment, and it indicates a mismatch of skills, said Rahman at a webinar styled, "Industry-Academia Linkage: The New Frontier".
Industry-academia collaboration has emerged as a new means to elevate the country's competitiveness in terms of developing a skilled workforce and innovation ecosystem.
"So, the universities should collaborate with private sector entities to convert our youth into skilled human capital," Rahman said.
In order to do so, internationally accredited skills development training programmes should be held, while research universities that provide high-quality post-graduation facilities need to be established.
Rahman suggested that incentives such as tax exemption should be provided to the private sector to collaborate with universities for research and development.
He also called for increasing public investment in education, research and skills development.
"We need to change our mindset for better industry-academia collaboration," said Education Minister Dipu Moni.
She urged the private sector to invest in education for a sustainable and commercially viable research ecosystem.
"Universities should not focus only on education and degrees as they have to provide necessary trainings," Moni said.
"There is a gap between industry and academia, and to reduce this gap, we need mapping to identify skill requirements."
Despite the devastating socio-economic impacts of Covid-19, the pandemic has created many opportunities, and a tripartite collaboration among industry-academia and researchers could help reap those benefits.
Kazi Shahidullah, chairman of the University Grants Commission; Md Sabur Khan, chairman of the board of trustees at Daffodil International University; Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director at Apex Footwear; Syed Ferhat Anwar, director of the Institute of Business Administration at the University of Dhaka; Anisuzzaman Talukder, a professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; and Tahmina Mostafa, a director of Meghna Group, were present.