Business executives and trade leaders said the fast-growing retail sector in Bangladesh has already provided employment to over 60 lakh people, and there is a huge potential for generating more job opportunities for youths and women.
As the chief guest of a roundtable in Dhaka Thursday, Nihad Kabir, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said, "Women need training to enter jobs in retail sectors. But at the moment, training facilities for the aspirants are very limited. The government should focus on establishing these facilities."
The event, organised by Brac's Skills Development Programme, aimed to foster discussions with the private sector on youth employment in retail sales and skills training required for the jobs.
Tamara Abed, managing director of Aarong, Brac, said, "As employers, we need to create the appropriate environment for men and women. There should be policies to create a more comfortable and healthier environment. There should be separate toilet and shift-based work schedules not only for women but also for people with disabilities."
She said Brac has arranged transportation for their staff to return home after office. However, it is difficult for all offices to arrange this facility.
Murtoza Zaman, chief executive officer of Unimart, said if a woman returns home after 10 pm, she faces humiliating attitudes from others. "We need to overthrow this social stigma," he added.
Aziza Ahmed, head of operations of Bangladesh Business and Disability Network, said, "Our job is to connect the job seekers and employers. We often find that there is no transport facility for the employees though they have job security. Many cannot continue the job thanks to the transportation issue."
She said there should be an integrated step comprising training facilities and transportation arrangements.
Apex Footwear's MD Syed Nasim Manzur observed, "It is not only sufficient to organise training and employment in the retail sector, but quality improvement of the sector is also imperative. The government needs to play a decisive role in formulating necessary laws and giving recognition."
MM Ferdous, executive director at Best Electronics, said, "We want women workers but we do not get them. In our 92 showrooms, there are only 11 women out of 411 employees. The job seeker should have basic knowledge about selling electronic products."
Considering the potential of the retail sector, Brac's Skills Development Programme is implementing a project titled "Progressing the Retail Sector by Improving Decent Employment (Pride)" with a goal to create a model for sustainable livelihoods for low-income urban youth. Some 5,200 people will be trained under this programme.
Launched in 2020, the programme will end in 2023. So far 877 people have been trained and 54% of them have managed jobs.