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15 June 2024

Bangladesh falls short of top 25 outsourcing countries

MD Mahfuzul Islam, Dhaka

Published: 07:55, 23 May 2024

Bangladesh falls short of top 25 outsourcing countries

Photo : Messenger

Bangladesh, once a top-listed outsourcing destination, has failed to secure a place among the top 25 countries for freelancing and online outsourcing, according to the latest 'Best Countries for Hiring Freelancers 2024' list published by CEOWorld Magazine. Despite its proven track record in the sector, the South Asian nation currently ranks a disappointing 29th in the global ranking.

However, just over four and a half years ago, in December 2019, a report by the Oxford Internet Institute stated that Bangladesh was the second-largest outsourcing hub in the world for online work. Within a span of just over four and a half years, Bangladesh has slipped from the second position to the 29th position, a significant drop of 27 steps.

Individuals related to the sector say that Bangladesh's position is declining day by day due to being stuck with only data entry and some graphics work, failing to keep up with the changing times. To emerge from this situation, they need to become more skilled and learn new technologies and types of work.

This has been acknowledged by the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), the Bangladesh Association of Contact Centre and Outsourcing (BACCO), and officials from the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology.

According to the CEOWorld Magazine report, the United States tops the list with a score of 97.46, while India ranks second with a score of 95.71. The United Kingdom is in third place. The Philippines and Ukraine are in fourth and fifth positions, with scores of 91.05 and 90.46 respectively.

The remaining five countries in the top ten are Canada, Australia, Poland, Brazil, and Portugal.

Among the other countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Morocco, Turkey, Siberia, France, United Arab Emirates, China, Macedonia, Japan, Vietnam, Italy, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.

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Secretary General of BACCO Towhid Hossain told The Daily Messenger, “We have heard about the report. We need to see the criteria on which we were ranked 27 steps down. I feel that our level of work is decreasing. This is bad news for Bangladesh.”

He added, “To improve from this situation, we need to constantly keep an eye on the global market and work accordingly. We need to develop individuals and organizations as skilled through new technologies. We need to capture the future market. Only then will it be possible to earn $5 billion in export revenue through outsourcing, as per the government's plan.”

When contacted for comments, the state minister for the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, was out of the country on official duties, and he did not respond to a WhatsApp message.

Regarding the overall situation, Syed Almas Kabir, former president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), told The Daily Messenger, “For the past four and a half years, we have been claiming that the second largest outsourcing work in the world is done from Bangladesh. A December 2019 report by the Internet Society of Oxford University stated that around 24 per cent of global outsourcing work is done by freelancers in India, and Bangladesh ranks second with 16 per cent of the work share. We have been saying this in various country-branding presentations all this time. However, in the Top 30 list of 'Best Countries for Hiring Freelancers 2024' published by CEOWorld Magazine on April 19, 2024, Bangladesh's position is 29th!”

“What caused this decline over the past four years? The main reason is our failure to acquire or increase our skills in new technologies. We are still providing services that can be replaced by AI or RPA. As a result, our demand is gradually decreasing. If our boys and girls do not improve their skills in frontier technologies, this demand will decrease further,” he added. 

He further said, “If we can do analytical and decision-based work, our remuneration will increase 2-3 times. The demand and price for basic work like clipping paths or data entry will continue to decrease day by day. Therefore, we must immediately focus our IT professionals on acquiring and improving skills in new technologies. Academia and the government need to be very serious about this.”

President of BASIS Russell T Ahmed told The Daily Messenger, “We have taken note of the issue. We are planning how we can improve from the current situation. We are providing training to develop all our manpower as skilled.”

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