Local entrepreneur - Oldham Bangladeshis 'could be key to solving IT skills gap'

Date published: 02 September 2021

Where once Bangladeshis were encouraged to come to Britain to work in small factories and cotton mills, they could now make a huge contribution in plugging skills shortages in the UK’s growing tech trade.

So says Oldham entrepreneur and business coach Muzahid Khan, who told a pan British-Bangladeshi webinar of IT chiefs recently that traditional close Commonwealth links between the two countries meant their long tradition of helping each other could enter a new technological phase.

“Post Brexit and post COVID, there are partners across the board from UK charities to the six million private sector businesses that are desperate for digital marketing support to bolster their brand,” said Mr Khan, deputy Chief Executive of the Pathfinder programme.

“India has had that expertise, but is now seen as too expensive and so Bangladesh is ideally placed.

"The Levelling-Up agenda also means that Government is investing in places like Oldham.

"Once again, the two countries could work together for mutual benefit and help create vital employment opportunities.”

Fittingly, Mr Khan was speaking at this the 50th anniversary of independence for Bangladesh from Pakistan.

Immigrants from the country have contributed to the economy and culture in the UK since the 19th century and now make up seven per cent of Oldham’s population.

Leaders from the community acknowledge that when it comes to being globalised businesses, Bangladesh has been behind the game – but that is beginning to change at just the right moment.

Mashukul Hoque, Chief Executive of Datacentreplus, a Media City-based business specialising in providing premium hosting services to digital agencies and other companies, told the meeting: “There is already a bidding war going on here for the best talent.

"Manchester has four universities with specialism in tech – and yet it takes me months to find someone suitable to employ.”

Ifty Islam, Chief Executive of the Pathfinder hub and creator of Infiniti Tech, a UK technology company, admits that for burgeoning Bangladeshi businesses looking to work and create jobs in Britain, the road ahead is hampered by a lack of connections – especially into local government and the civil service, where skills are badly needed.

“It is a hugely competitive market and companies need to make sure they have a quality brand,” he said.

Pathfinder is a social enterprise whose vision is to catalyse innovation and growth by empowering and inspiring the next generation of technology entrepreneurs regardless of background, but with a particular focus on women and young entrepreneurs.

Mr Khan concluded: “It is also our ambition to foster even closer links between Britain and Bangladesh.

"As Adam Smith noted nearly 250 years ago in his book The Wealth of Nations, countries trading together can only live more peacefully and prosperously.”

Discover more about the Pathfinder programme by clicking here.

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