Develop language and soft skills to scale up in size

The finance minister’s assurance that existing tax benefits for the ICT sector will be maintained under the forthcoming budget, herald a positive start for the country’s largest IT trade fair, Digital World 2014 which opened this Wednesday.

With Bangladesh now part of the SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium, the country’s communications infrastructure stands to benefit from a second cable link offering more advanced speeds of up to 100-gigabit-per-second.

It is vital for the future growth of this industry that entrepreneurs and government keep working together to innovate and improve skills development, in order to make the most of its potential.

The total value of ICT exported services from Bangladesh exceeded $100m last year. According to the industry association BASIS, the country’s growing pool of IT professionals and low costs make it feasible to plan for the IT industry  to provide 1% of total GDP within the next five years.

At present, the vast majority of jobs in the sector depend on freelancing and small enterprises typically employing less than 30 people. While power outages and unreliable physical infrastructure are a known barrier to investment, studies indicate that in order to match its potential, the industry requires major investment in improving skills and know-how.

More emphasis needs to be put into developing language and interpersonal communication skills. Without such soft skills, the sector is held back from marketing to larger outsourcing customers.

Companies should increase collaboration on improving training and developing clusters of expertise, so that the industry can scale up in size and attract bigger customers and investment.

Published: Dhaka Tribune, June 5 2014