Bangladesh is the second most favourite Asian country in supplying global online workers, according to a report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
"The top three Asian countries that provide online workers — India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan—comprise 52 percent of the global online workforce," said the report styled the Asian Economic Integration Report (AEIR) 2021: Making Digital Platforms Work for Asia and the Pacific.
In Asia, the creative industry is likely to flourish, as countries boast of a big pool of young, creative, and technology-savvy people, said the report released recently.
"The Internet has created a global market for digitally delivered freelance work, which is currently growing rapidly . . . the top occupational category in the United States is writing and translation, while in the Indian subcontinent it is software development and technology," the report said.
From 2017 to 2020, the share of workers in creative and multimedia has increased by 34 percent in Bangladesh, it said, adding that to date, it accounts for around 59 percent of Bangladesh’s online workforce.
In the Philippines, creative and multimedia online workers share the bulk of online employment at 47 percent while its share is 31 percent in Pakistan.
At the global stage, the world exports of creative goods has grown in value from $208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015 while the trade in creative services in developed economies as a share of total export services has increased from 17.3 percent in 2011 to 18.9 percent in 2015.
Compensation and bargaining power may also be driven downward by the number of people seeking jobs. In one platform, evidence shows that the Philippines accounts for 12 percent of the global labor oversupply.
Cross-country differences reflect comparative advantage and workers’ bargaining power differs across economies, it said. Adding that there is a disparity in the distribution of online work reflecting how a country’s comparative advantage is viewed by the global market.
A large percentage of online workers in India, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Viet Nam are in software development/technology, while a large fraction of workers in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines perform creative and multimedia tasks.
In the United Kingdom and the US, large portions of online workers are engaged in professional services or tasks that have high value added. Although the Philippines has a large share of online workers in creative and multimedia, many are in jobs that have low value-added.
Around 25 percent of online workers in the Philippines are into clerical and data services while such workers account for fewer than 10 percent in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Only around 14 percent of Filipino online workers do tasks that are related to software development and technology, much lower compared with the proportion of such workers in India, 59 percent, Pakistan 45 percent and even Viet Nam, 52 percent.
Just like other jobs, online creative and multimedia workers in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines have experienced substantial downturn due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
On one hand, these countries may want to invest in ICT skills and focus on training and education systems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs to capture some jobs in software development and technology.