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MaRIHE Master thesis reader e-book 2015

Alignment of Graduate Specialisations and Employment Opportunities in Bangladesh

A study focuses on social sciences and humanities

Raihan Mahmood Kadery

Statement of the Research Problem

There is significant number of graduates in Bangladesh who remain unemployed after their graduation; and most of the graduates, who can manage employment, work in the fields which are not related with their field of study in graduation. According to the very recent report of the Economist Intelligence Unit, 47% of the graduates in Bangladesh are unemployed (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014); and most of the employed graduates could not manage job with the alignment of their graduate specialisations (BBS, 2014). In this perspective of Bangladesh, the author has been interested to conduct research on the alignment of graduate specialisations and employment opportunities in Bangladesh.

Research Questions

It has been supported by literatures (BBS, 2014; Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014) that most of the graduates in Bangladesh are either unemployed or working in irrelevant fields of their graduate specialisations. There could be many reasons behind this mismatch between educational specialisations and working fields of the graduates. One significant reason could be the degree of integration between graduate specialisations and employment opportunities in Bangladesh that need to be well researched as no research has yet been conducted on this issue. The author has therefore set one main research question along with four following questions. The main research question is:

  • What can the government, universities, companies and other stakeholders do to ensure better alignment of graduate specialisations and labour market needs in Bangladesh?

Four follow-up questions are needed to be answered prior to find the answer of main research question. These follow-up questions are:

  • What is the degree of alignment between graduate specialisations and labour market needs in Bangladesh?
  • What is the reason for (mis)alignment?
  • How should the situation be assessed?
  • What should be done to ensure better alignment?

Theoretical Framework/Literature Review

The author has chosen Human Capital Theory and the Triple Helix Model of University-Industry-Government Relations as theoretical framework of this research. Human Capital Theory has been chosen to study competencies, knowledge, social and personal attributes, creativity and cognitive abilities of the graduates to perform labour in the field of their graduate specialisations so as to produce economic value. The Triple Helix Model of University-Industry-Government Relations has been chosen to study how the universities, industry and government in Bangladesh are working together to ensure the employment of the graduates in the relevant fields.

Research Methods and Data Collection

The author has selected Interpretive Approach as the philosophy of this research. Inductive Research Approach and Explanatory Research Design have been chosen by the author in this research. The author has collected most of the secondary data from different documents and publications of governmental and non-governmental statistical bureaus, and research institutions. In order to collect the primary data, e-mail interviews were conducted by the author among fifteen employers, graduate employees, and academic and non-academic university staffs in Bangladesh. The author has performed qualitative analysis of the gathered data.

Key Findings

Lacking Academic Innovation and Institutional Capacity

Academic innovation mostly depends on the innovation culture of the universities, and universities must have institutional capacity to develop innovation culture. Most of the universities in Bangladesh have neither the institutional capacity for research and innovation nor the academic innovation culture, which is one of the essentials for human capital development needed in the specialised job market.

Connectivity in Higher Education Sector and Industry

Connection between universities and industry through a strong Triple Helix system could act as a significant determinant determining how graduates can secure their jobs in the relevant fields of their specialisation which is almost not existed in Bangladesh.

High University Enrolment, Low Graduate Employment

Compared to the number of graduates and constantly growing university enrolment, available graduate employment opportunities are significantly limited in Bangladesh. This has been identified as one of the major reasons why graduates in Bangladesh are not working in their fields of specialisation. In the context of very competitive graduate labour market in Bangladesh, when a graduate is offered a job opportunity outside his/her study specialisation, he/she does not even bother to think about the specialisation and accepts the offer with feeling him/herself blessed and lucky for the employment opportunity. For instance, if we compare the overall unemployment rate of 4.5 percent with the graduate unemployment rate of 47 percent (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2014) in Bangladesh, we can roughly understand how challenging it is for the graduates in Bangladesh to manage a job they deserve.

Shortage of New Skills in New Economy

As mentioned earlier in this paper, economy of Bangladesh has been constantly growing with a rate of 6 percent in GDP. This economic growth in Bangladesh mostly depends on its readymade garments sector as Bangladesh is second in the world in terms of garments export. Although a major part of Bangladeshi economy stands on garments industry, it is very unfortunate that university education in Bangladesh has very little concentration on that industry. The same is true in case of other major industries in Bangladesh such as leather industry, public health, micro-credit projects and so on.


Below some brief policy recommendations are presented for the policy makers in Bangladesh with the view of ensuring better alignment between graduate specialisations and employment opportunities:

  • Concentration must be made on promoting innovation culture through enhancement of quality and relevance of teaching, learning and research in universities; and introduction of new funding mechanism with an emphasis on innovation and accountability.
  1. Both the strategic and institutional capacity of higher education sector of Bangladesh in central and university level must be reinforced. In order to do so, government of Bangladesh primarily has to take initiatives on:Improving the strategic capacity of University Grants Commission (UGC) by firstly making it independent from the Ministry of Education, and then training the UGC staff to be more capable of making strategic plans through Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) and transformation of e-management of UGC.
  2. Strengthening the institutional capacity of the universities by establishing a central quality assurance (QA) mechanism in the national higher education level, and internal QA cells within the universities.
  3. Promoting intellectual property literacy of the universities by offering intensive training to the university academics and Industry Research Fellows on intellectual property (IP) literacy.
  • Policy makers should concentrate on raising connectivity capacity of higher education sector in Bangladesh with research institutes and industry, and within the HE sector itself. As the means of doing that,
  1.  A Research and Education Network among public and private universities, research institutes, and R&D units of business organisations in Bangladesh needs to be established.
  2.  Government and other policy makers should facilitate universities and industry to jointly establish Technology Transfer Office (TTO) to create a sustainable industry-university interaction system that will facilitate the universities to work with industry in different innovation projects and create the possibilities for the universities to manage funding from the industry.
  3. The Public University Act 1973 needs to be changed by the parliament of Bangladesh to diminish the restrictions of public universities in making collaboration contracts with industry and private universities.
  4. Technological infrastructures and speed of internet must need to be well promoted if the government of Bangladesh wants to develop a sustainable connection among universities, research institutes and industry.
  • Government of Bangladesh has to accelerating the industrialisation process through encouraging the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), initiating Public Private Partnership (PPP), ensuring political stability, developing technological infrastructures, and properly planning the Human Resource Development (HRD) processes in order to create sufficient specialised graduate employment opportunities in the labour market.
  • Universities and industry have to take joint initiatives to arrange regular job fair and offer extensive internship programmes to the graduates within the fields of their graduate specialisation, which will result better communication among universities, industry and graduates about the industry’s expectation of knowledge and skills towards university graduates; and also will create guidelines for the government to formulate an effective policy to better integrate the current higher education system with the new skills required in the new economy.


I am grateful to my supervisors, Prof. Dr. Frank Ziegele and Prof. Dr. Hans Vossensteyn, whose guidance, support and feedback enabled me to understand and develop this thesis. I would also like to thank Mr. Alexander Rupp and Ms. Freya Gallenkamp for their continuous administrative assistance during the development of my thesis.
I am deeply grateful to my family members, especially my mother Nusrat Jahan. I would like to thank her for encouraging and supporting me to pursue this degree. I would not finish my study without her encouragement.
Finally, I offer my gratefulness and blessings to all of them who supported me in any aspect to complete my thesis.

Raihan Mahmood Kadery

Osnabrueck, Germany.


Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). (2014). Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh 2014. Dhaka: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics;

Economist Intelligence Unit. (2014). High university enrolment, low graduate employment: Analysing the paradox in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka. London: The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited;



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