Learning and earning: A success in Bangladesh

The European Union Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna yesterday handed certificates to a group of the total 8000 apprentices across Bangladesh who recently completed skilled apprenticeships. Just three years ago, there were only 98 apprentices registered under the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). Introducing apprenticeships and their up scaling has been a key initiative of the TVET Reform Project, supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and funded by the European Union (EU).

SDP-ILOTwo programmes taking apprenticeships to this new level in Bangladesh are in the Centre of Excellence for Leather (COEL), graduating 6000 apprentices in the leather sector; and a partnership between UNICEF, BRAC and the ILO, graduating 2000 apprentices in a number of trades, with another 3000 starting in 2014.

EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna said: ‘In developing countries, skills are the key to reducing poverty. Skills mean decent jobs and decent income. Skilled workers increase the quality and competitiveness of products made in Bangladesh and help enterprises and the economy grow as a whole. That is why skills development is on top of the development agendas of both the EU and Bangladesh.’

The Government of Bangladesh, supported by the ILO and financed by the EU, has been working since 2008 to improve the skills development system in Bangladesh, to make skills relevant, nationally recognised and demand-driven.

One of the key initiatives has been improving the apprenticeship system and introducing the concept of dual apprenticeships, where learning happens in both training institutions and in workplaces. Another change is that dual apprenticeships are designed so that apprentices can directly enter jobs upon graduation. Industry sectors across Bangladesh are successfully using and up scaling these models.

Country Director, ILO Country Office for Bangladesh Srinivas Reddy said “I am proud to congratulate a diverse group of people on attaining with high quality skills for employment. The improvements that are being made to the skills development system here in Bangladesh are making it possible for everyone in the country to access training, including females apprentices in non-traditional trades, persons with disabilities and people with low levels of education. This has been made possible by partnerships between industry and government training institutions, the adoption of gender-responsive, flexible training methods and incorporating basic literacy and numeracy into skills.

Apprentice Amina Akhter from rural Tangail said “Learning skills means you have a much better chance of a job straight away, which is important especially if you do not live in Dhaka and there are few opportunities. After just three months of training in COEL and in a factory, I went straight into a job with a good salary.