Skills for Employment

Leveraging Demographic Dividend to Meet the Goals of a Middle Income Country

Form the right linkages in the education sector to meet the goals of becoming a strong middle-income country based on local and international market demand. Show more

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urrent education, training and employment scenario in Bangladesh

The education sector is often disconnected from the market. The skills developed by the former are often not demanded by the latter causing unemployment and underemployment of the so-called ‘educated’ and ‘trained’. At the same time, the former does not or is not able to produce skills that the latter demands leading to jobs in the market that the local labour force cannot fulfill. Such disconnection leads to wastage of national resources, frustration of the graduates at different educational tiers, and delayed achievement of national economic goals and SDGs.

With a total population of around 160 million and labour force of about 80 million, Bangladesh has a youth unemployment rate of 9.2% and an underemployment rate of 18.7% which are steadily moving in an upward direction, according to a 2015 World Bank report. 1.7 million are joining the job market every year whereas the government trains 1.2 million every year. However, the problem is that most of this training is inadequate, not demand-based, and does not include the new labour market entrants.

a2i’s 4 strategic priority areas

a2i has developed a strategic framework for Skills and Unemployment identifying 4 priority areas: Market Analysis, Forecasting and Prioritization: Labour force trained by the government training agencies for local or foreign market struggle due to inappropriate knowledge and skills. On the other hand, massive infrastructure projects in the country are in the process of creating huge employment opportunities for which labour skills development is not happening based on demand. To analyze demand and prioritize skills development, a2i and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) are jointly conducting a study for the local market, whereas Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment is doing a study for the international markets.

Market driven skills development: a2i has partnered with various organizations to create the necessary linkages between skills development agencies and job providers to pave the way for the workers to get gainful employment in different industries. Some of the initiatives are as follows:

  • Skills development through apprenticeship and job placement in informal sectors in partnership with ILO in 30 Upazillas with 600 informal industries;
  • Partnership with Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP) of Finance Division to start skills development and job placement in the garments sector.
  • Collaboration with Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) project of UNDP to initiate skills development and self-employment amongst ultra-poor women.
  • Collaboration with Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education to integrate skills development programs with stipend programs where participants will get training and apprenticeship in local industries.
  • e-Learning platform named ‘MuktoPaath’ focused on skills development anytime and anywhere for the youth.

Coordination and standardization: The skills development sector directly involves 23 ministries, 27 departments, public and private institutions and many other agencies. The National Skills Development Council (NSDC), chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, coordinates and accelerates national skills development by linking the different organizations engaged in skills development and employment generation with the necessary support of a2i. This coordination is supported by a Skills and Employment Dashboard.

National Communication and Branding: Technical and Vocational Education and Training or TVET has a stigma associated with it in Bangladesh that this is for students who are not able to ‘make it’ in the mainstream education. Uplifting image of TVET through proper communication and branding is a major national goal. Media, including social media, is leveraged to create positive hype and awareness about TVET and how it can lead to personal prosperity and contribute to national economic growth.

Focus on SDGs

Skills for Employment initiative is a significant endeavor to increase remittance per capita and ensure decent work for everyone through appropriate planning, coordination and reshaping skills development. Only with a concerted effort will it be possible to stand up against unemployment and making meaningful contributions to attain SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Jobs and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and eventually earning a strong middle income status in the world arena.

Cases and Stories


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Skills for Employment

Sufia, a women in her early thirties, decided to break the socio-economic shackles binding women like her and opted for an overseas employment opportunity…

Skills for Employment

Sufia, a women in her early thirties, decided to break the socio-economic shackles binding women like her and opted for an overseas employment opportunity after failing to find a job at home to support her family. She went to Saudi Arabia as a housemaid, with big dreams of changing her fate, with the assistance of a middle man with minimal details about the workplace and job requirements. She faced difficulties in adapting to her new professional life because of her lack of familiarization of up-to-date technology and basic requirements. Moreover, the language barrier became another substantial obstacles for her. As a result she failed to communicate effectively with her employer and was forced to encounter many embarrassing situations. Sufia’s journey ended within six months, leaving her filled with bitter experiences and having lost a huge amount of money on the process. Today, Sufia is unemployed and her dreams of achieving financial independence are in tatters.
In Bangladesh, existing educational institutions and training centres do not have the capability to train enough skilled workers to keep up with the current demand of the local industries and international markets. As a result majority of the workforce, facing a situation alike Sufia’s, lack the proper training required for the times ahead. Innovative interventions like MuktoPaath (www.muktopaath.gov.bd) can pave the way to bridge the gap with diverse courses and tutorials for migrant worker like Sufia as well as for people in other profession like teachers, individual learners, farmers and others to gain necessary knowledge and develop required skills. Offline versions of courses are available so that people who are living in remotest corner of the country with limited access to internet could easily avail the contents of MuktoPaath in their computer and SD card supported mobile. An effort like MuktoPaath could positively contribute to fulfill dreams of other citizens like those of Sufia’s.

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