Survey reveals need for skills and employment support for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ITPs)

A pressing need exists to create more productive employment opportunities among Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ITPs) in Bangladesh according to a new survey.

Better skills will lead to better jobs
The ‘Skill and Employment Baseline Assessment of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh’ was carried out by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) with the support of the International Labour Organization. A consultation to share the survey results with stakeholders took place at BIDS in Dhaka 10 August 2016.

Informal employment among the ITPs stands at 89.84% compared to national rural average of 87.5% while skills levels of the ITP employed population is extremely poor. Only 2.63% of ITPs can be considered skilled workers while over 80% have either no or very limited levels of skills training. However, unemployment is higher among tertiary graduates (2.04%) compared to those with no education (0.11%) indicating an inverse relationship between unemployment with education. ITP working age population accounts for 71.15% of total population compared to the national rural figure of 61% with almost equal distribution in hilly and plain areas as well as by gender. In addition to data about skills and employment the survey also covered areas such as education levels, dwelling types, and access to fuel, food, drinking water and toilets.

Speaking at the workshop, Mr. Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, ndc, Secretary, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs said,
This is an important survey that provides a wealth of detailed, accurate and up-to-date data on the lives and employment of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. It will provide a foundation for the government’s future development actions in these areas.

Recommendations based on the survey findings included the need for relevant line ministries to undertake active labour market policies and programs for ITPs. It was suggested that such programs should include job creation; supporting the unemployed and the underemployed e.g. through micro-enterprise development; linking training with the labour market; and helping match jobs with job seekers.

Mr. Siroco Messerli, Charge d’ Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Switzerland said, “SDC’s interest in ITPs is from a poverty perspective. While a lot of information and analysis is available on the ITPs in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, very little is known about communities living on the plains. SDC’s interest was to understand how the ITPs fared, compared to the national average, in terms of socio-economic indicators (such as education, consumption, water, etc.) as well to explore whether skills development is an appropriate tool for intervention with this group.”

Mr. Gagan Rajbhandari, Deputy Director, ILO Bangladesh said, “The skills and employability of Indigenous and Tribal men and women in Bangladesh urgently needs to be enhanced. Providing skills that link to Decent Work is an important step which will help lift many out of poverty.”

Also taking part in the consultation were Mr. Khondker Mostan Hossain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment; Mr. Mohammad Rezaul Karim, Director, NSDC; Dr. Khan Ahmed Sayeed Murshid, Director General, BIDS; Mr. Shah Muhamad Abu Zafar, Chairperson, NCCWE, and Ms. Nazia Haider, Senior Programme Officer, SDC.