Bangladesh displays skills dev achievements at ILO forum

ILO logoFile photo

Bangladesh has achieved significant advancements in skills development, notably in ensuring accessibility and equity for marginalised groups, such as women, indigenous communities, and persons with disabilities. 

These endeavours align closely with the government's stated political objectives and developmental priorities, says the Bangladesh delegation while briefing a high-level panel at International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  

The panel discussed Bangladesh's advancement in skills and technical education through partnerships with the ILO, European Union, and Canadian government. Representatives of the government, employers, and development partners were invited to the event. 

According to the presentation, the Bangladesh government has since 2007 multiplied its investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development, and after one and a half decade the results of these numerous e+orts are tangible.

The authorities have formulated a national skills development policy and established a unified national qualifications framework to enhance recognition of skills qualifications and upskilling of the workforce. Moreover, the traditional TVET system has evolved into an industry-relevant and skills-focused model.

These transformations reflect the government's commitment to its development vision, complemented by significant financial contributions by development partners and technical expertise provided notably by the ILO.

However, challenges persist in realizing the Bangladesh government’s vision for the national skills system. Therefore, the global skills forum, hosted by the ILO skills and employability branch on 23 and 24 April, which had invited constituents and development partners to discuss skills challenges and partnerships in a changing world, featured the exclusive session dedicated to Bangladesh.

During the session, participants deliberated on Bangladesh's achievements, ongoing challenges, and proposed strategies for advancing the national skills system through targeted strategies and collaborative partnerships. 

Srinivas Reddy, chief of the skills and employability branch at ILO moderated the session, commencing with a video showcasing Bangladesh's main achievements in skills development.

Addressing the event, education minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury highlighted Bangladesh's significant advancements in skills development. He stressed the need to bridge the skills mismatch between the high-skills needs of industry and the generally low-skilled labour force, both nationally and more generally. 

He also called upon industry sectors and development partners to take proactive steps in promoting lifelong learning and enhance skills development, especially in emerging industry sectors like pharmaceuticals, ICT, and agro-food processing.

Charles Whiteley, ambassador and head of delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh, highlighted the EU's commitment to enhancing the capabilities of the Bangladeshi workforce, not only for domestic employment, but also for international labour markets. 

He laid emphasis on the EU’s support for upcoming talent partnerships between Bangladesh and key EU member states for skilled migration of Bangladeshi workers to the EU through legal migration pathways, as well as plans to support the diversification of the production base of industry sectors through gateway collaboration.

Farooq Ahmed, secretary general of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, highlighted the essential role of the private sector in skills development, including the need for more apprenticeships in skills development and job creation, as well as facilitating a seamless transition from education to employment. 

He advocated for incentives to encourage businesses to adopt and increase the quantity and quality of apprenticeships models applied and emphasised the comprehensive need for industry relevant TVET.

Gilbert F Houngbo, the director general of ILO, joined the high-level panel and commended the beneficial long-term partnerships between Bangladesh, the ILO, the EU and Canada, recognising their mutually reinforcing contributions to Bangladesh’s skills development objectives. 

Houngbo underscored the importance of climate change mitigation and adaptation through green skills development, as well as promoting social cohesion and employment through ensuring accessibility and inclusivity of the skills development system.