Skills for the 21st Century: Unlocking the Skills
Potential of the Developing World

Technological advances are opening new opportunities and potential for economies to improve productivity and create jobs if adequate and right skills are available. With the introduction of new and emerging technologies, many labor-intensive jobs are likely to be replaced, while others may require re-skilling of workers to the new systems. The question is whether education and skills development systems, particularly those in the developing countries, are capable of preparing the workforce with the adequate skills and knowledge to take advantage of new technologies in their work-places.

Skills develop progressively over an individual’s life in stages, each building from the previous one, initiating from early childhood development to basic education to tertiary education and on-the-job training as well as from new learning interventions. Skills development is a lifelong process of acquiring diversified abilities and competencies. It is seen that social and emotional skills are also important for an individual’s success, particularly when individuals pursue goals, work with others and manage emotions in evolving work environments. Low learning outcomes across the education system in developing countries underwrite failure to fully realize the potential of human capital of these economies. The World Development Report 2018 estimates that 125 million children globally are not acquiring the necessary numeracy and literacy skills even after spending at least 4 years in school. Poor basics lead to learning disability later for 259 million youths in developing nations. As a result, more than half of the 4.6 billion working-age people in the world lack critical foundational skills needed to acquire higher order cognitive and job-specific skills. The skill gaps are amplified in the developing countries, especially among youth between the age of 15 to 24 years. Estimated numbers show that as many as 120 million youth in South Asia, 92 million in East Asia and Pacific while 47 million in Lat-in America and the Caribbean lacked such foundational skills.

The need to focus on skills training for human capital is critical more than ever for developing countries. Improvements in healthcare and falling fertility rates led to a rise in the working age population in the developing world. However, this bulge in youthful population is very transitional as the population growth rate is on a downward trend. Thus, to cash in on a potential demographic dividend, it has become extremely important for the developing world to skill-up the workforce. The techno-logical advancements have made the skills requirement unpredictable, as a result, workers with a higher adaptive skill are being valued more and more. Cognitive and analytical skills are increasingly dominating the skills requirement for the job landscape globally.

Appropriate Tertiary 1 education and training are integral part of the education system for producing a globally competitive workforce and developing a knowledge economy. Appropriate and quality tertiary education and skills training are critical for preparing the workforce with relevant skills and expertise needed to meet the changing technology and skills demands of the economy as well as creating and disseminating new knowledge through research and innovation. However, the institutions for tertiary education and vocational training in the developing world still have a long way to go in responding to the economic changes and meeting the required quality standards both in the domestic and overseas labor markets.

Knowledge sharing based on the latest research and best practices in skills development will be critical in steering and preparing the developing world for the fourth industrial revolution. The International Skills Conference, titled, “Skills for the 21st Century: Unlocking the Skills Potential of the Developing World” aims to create the stepping stone of a platform for policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders to share their knowledge and experiences on the global and regional best practices in skills development and contributing to a strategic plan on human capital development in Bangladesh and other developing countries.

Conference Objectives:

The Conference is expected to promote knowledge sharing and development cooperation in shaping the future of skills development. This Conference is expected to achieve the following objectives:

1) Networking and Collaboration
to drive action through collaboration be-tween various stakeholders, including, governments, businesses/industries, civil society and the education and training sector, at the global, industry and regional level.

2) Knowledge Sharing and Learning
through providing a platform that fosters deep understanding of the skills challenges and opportunities and learning the best practices in skills development from global experts in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Sessions are designed to disseminate the latest research on global developments on skills and share the experiences of skills practitioner from the field.

3) Promoting the importance of skills development
to governments, policymakers, employers, private sector, civil society, skills practitioners, and other stakeholders. The Conference will empathize on the urgent need for public and private investments and cooperation in education and skills training to ensure human capital development and preparedness for the future of work.

4) Providing skills development Road map,
for the next skills program of Bangladesh. Many of the first-generation skills projects in Bangladesh are close to completion, achieving significant progress in the skills sector of the country.

With achievements came new challenges and new vision towards a skillful Bangladesh. The conference would provide a platform to dis-cuss and explore the challenges and solutions for the country which will be recorded by a team of professional rapporteurs and the document will serve as a guideline for the next generation skills project.

Conference Outcome:
1) Conference Report:
The conference is expected to publish a conference proceedings report with the discussions that takes place during the technical sessions of the conference. The document will be prepared by a high caliber professional rapporteur team and will serve as a guideline for the skills practitioners to tackle the skills challenges of the future for the developing world including Bangladesh.

2) Cooperation Commitment:
The conference also aims to bring together different stakeholders regarding skills development like the government, private sector, development partners, NGOs together in pledging to work together for the skills development of Bangladesh.

Opening Ceremony:

The International Skills Conference 2019 is going to commence with an opening ceremony. Hon’ble Speaker, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, is going to grace the event as the chief guest and will inaugurate the conference. The opening ceremony will also host Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr. M. A. Mannan, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Planning and Mr. Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, MP, Hon’ble Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, as special guests. Hon’ble Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, MP is going to preside over the ceremony and welcoming speech will be delivered by Mr. Alamgir, Secretary, Technical and Madrasah Education Division, Ministry of Education.

Plenary Session:
The opening ceremony is going to be followed by a Plenary Session. The session will host a Keynote Speech delivered by Dr. Zahid Hussain, Lead Economist, The World Bank, Dhaka, on the topic “Human Capital, Jobs and Growth”. The session will have Mr. Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, MP, Hon’ble Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education as the chair. Valuable insights will be provided by:
1) HE Mr. Abdul Tawab Balakarzai, Deputy Minister for Academic Affairs, Ministry of Higher Education, Afghanistan.
2) Mr. Cristian Aedo, Practice Manager, Education Global Practice, The World Bank
3) Mr. Tuomo Poutainien, Country Director, International Labor Organization
4) Mr. Manmohan Parkash, Country Director, Asian Development Bank

Closing Ceremony:

The International Skills Conference is going to conclude through a closing ceremony on March 10, 2019. The closing ceremony will have Hon’ble Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, MP as the Chief Guest. The closing ceremony will also host an attractive cultural program.