My skills my future

Feature | 02 June 2019
Students learning graphics design at the Technical Training Centre in Gaibandha
DHAKA (ILO News) - 20-year-old Marufa Akhter is one of five women taking a graphics design course at the Technical Training Centre (TTC) in Gaibandha, an impoverished district in northern Bangladesh. Marufa recently sat for her higher secondary school completion exam, and decided to take the four-month course while nervously waiting for her results.

Marufa enjoys dabbling in design and computer graphics. She said: “My parents encouraged me to take this course, but they won’t let me travel far for work. I am learning to use photo editing tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator now. I hope these skills will open up new opportunities for me to work as a freelance graphic designer.”

Established in 2016, Gaibandha TTC is a government institute run by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET). The centre provides short-term skills development training, like the one Marufa is currently enjoying, based on the National Technical & Vocational Qualification Framework (NTVQF). Gaibandha TTC signed an implementation agreement with the ILO Skills 21 project this year and soon after started offering national certificate courses on graphics design, sewing machine operation, electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing and welding.

“Our project aims to support the government in transforming seven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes into advanced Model TVET institutes. These institutes will be at the forefront of modernising skills training in Bangladesh and not only offer  quality skills training programmes but also careers guidance and job placement services to trainees,” explained Snehal Soneji, the Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO’s Skills 21 project.

One of Marufa’s graphics design instructors is Firoz Khan, who believes the centre is a lifeline for many young students. “Gaibandha being a small district, has limited job opportunities. However, our students now have the option to learn valuable skills and potentially work from home in industries like the  outsourcing business,” said Khan

Outsource Experts Limited, a UK-based design firm is located next to the institute and works closely with the TTC . The firm, , which currently employs more than 160 local staff specializes in photo editing and caters to clients in Australia, the UK and the USA. Several TTC graduate students have had internships at the company’s Gaibandha office and learnt crucial professional and soft skills

Another student is stay-at-home mother Shaima Khatun who is taking sewing classes at the TTC. She attends classes with her three-year old daughter and says that she finds the learning environment very ‘women-friendly’. Shaima says: “My child is very young. So I don’t want to leave her at home and go outside for work. Once the course is over, I plan to design and sew clothes at home to support my family. It is a good skill worth investing in.” 

The ILO’s Country Director in Bangladesh, Tuomo Poutiainen said: “As more and more youth enter the labour market, the demand for skills training that match the needs of the private sector will grow. This is why it is important to have a system that provides up to date training facilities, competent teachers and instructors to help these youth become ready for the job market.”

The ILO’s Skills 21 project is supported by the European Union. Other than Gaibandha, the project aims to support developing TVET institutes in Bagerhat, Feni, Jamalpur, Khulna, Rangamati and Sylhet into model institutes.