According to a 2014 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly 5 out of every 10 Bangladeshi graduates are unemployed. That’s half of the five hundred thousand graduating every year in our country. While solutions like industry-university coalitions have been proposed, a major problem still persists under our very noses. Why are the local conglomerates claiming the lack of a talented workforce when the multinationals seem to have a never ending list of candidates?
Looking over the several disciplines that both the public and private universities offer, two disciplines stand out like brick kilns in the distance; BBA and engineering. In both the disciplines, if you ask any student where they aspire to work, the first 5 options if not all would be MNCs. This leads to the fact that local firms (even though booming) are the last place any freshmen in these disciplines want to work in. Ultimately feeding to the bigger problem in two ways; the talented ones go to MNCs, and the ones who do join local firms are unhappy and look for avenues to get into MNCs.
The MNCs have done an amazing job of branding not only their products but also their workplace. Companies like Unilever, BAT, and Grameenphone have invested both time and money to create a workplace that attracts the talented graduate pool in the country. The locals however have a long way to go to even come anywhere near the employer brands these companies hold. However they must start.
The local firms are expanding. Firms like Pran-Rfl and ACI are just examples of conglomerates that are growing and have the potential to grow even further. However what the locals must understand is that to sustain this growth, they need talented managers. Individuals who are willing to become business leaders for their organizations and will both capture and sustain market share. To get hold of these individuals, local firms must let go of their “why fix what isn’t broken” philosophy. It’s time for them to step up and join the game.
Employer branding is a serious lacking among the local firms. It’s essential that they establish a unique employer brand in the market to differentiate them and attract talented graduates to work for them. However they must also understand that employer branding isn’t a one day gimmick but rather a commitment that must be pursued all the way through. Recruiting the talents is one thing, keeping them is another. A proper employer brand aims to fulfill both objectives.
While some firms having the environment and achievements to boast an impressive employer brand lack communication, others miss out on the entire concept of employer branding. Local firms before starting the flashy front end of employer branding (recruitment) must align their back end (work environment and career prospects) to what the graduates are expecting and what they can provide. Talented graduates at the end of the day seek two things over money; work environment and career progression. Both of the aspects can be provided by local firms with a little HR shaping.
With a proper core value settled, local firms can then seek to reach out and brand themselves as a certain type of employers. The recent start-up phenomena is a great example as how to these small ventures brand themselves to prospective employees. Fun, adventure, and thrill could be three characteristics that the startups have used to attract their employee market. Likewise the local conglomerates can use their own set of characteristics to bring about a unique employer brand.
The only way we can observe a rise in local employer brands is if the local firms start now. Start with the current employees you have. Create an environment and career progression plan for them. Remember your current employees are the first point of contact with the talented graduate pool. Hiring every year isn’t also a fix prerequisite for employer branding. But by providing a nurturing environment and a proper career progression plan your hires will ensure your employer brand persists in the market even when you’re not hiring. And when you do need a new hire, your employer brand will line the best talented graduates outside your door.
This article was first published on The Daily Star.