The Centre of Excellence is an initiative supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Government of Sweden, leading Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Based in Ashulia, a ready-made garment (RMG) cluster area close to Dhaka, the Centre of Excellence will help meet the need for a skilled labour force in the RMG sector by providing competency-based training in areas where demand from industry is greatest. By training workers to nationally recognized standards it will also give them the skills to earn higher wages.
“The Centre of Excellence will help create a better skilled, better paid workforce. The approach aims to effectively meet employers’ needs for skilled workers while at the same time helping workers attain decent work,” said Mr. Srinivas B Reddy, ILO Country Director for Bangladesh.
“In a hugely competitive global market the skills and productivity of the Bangladesh RMG workforce must be strengthened. By answering a clear demand from industry the Centre of Excellence should become self-funding and we expect to see these centres replicated to serve the needs of the RMG sector across Bangladesh,” said Mr. Atiqul Islam, President BGMEA. Meanwhile, Mr. Reaz Bin Mahmood, Vice President (Finance) BGMEA added that in view of the potential expansion of the RMG sector over the next 5-10 years, CEBAI had been set up to demonstrate and implement skills development and research initiatives and was a major step towards realising a sustainable sector.
Mr Johan Frisell, the Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh said, “This initiative is an excellent example of how the private and public sectors can join hands to meet the demands of industry and enhance the working conditions and lives of RMG workers. By supporting the Centre of Excellence, Sweden wants to raise the opportunities for people living in poverty, and especially women, to contribute and benefit from inclusive economic growth.”
“Supporting the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industries is a reflection of H&M’s long-term commitment to Bangladesh. The Centre will help industry overcome challenges relating to recruiting and retaining skilled personnel while empowering the workforce and contributing to the development of the country,” said Jenny Fagerlin, Sustainability Manager for H&M in Bangladesh.
The Centre of Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industries is the flagship activity of the Center for Excellence for the Bangladesh RMG sector project implemented by ILO and funded by Sweden and H&M. In addition to training workers at the Centre of Excellence, the project will also train supervisors and managers on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), disability inclusion, workers’ rights and responsibilities. The skills level of existing workers from the RMG Sector will be assessed through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and certified as the basis for improved wages. Furthermore, the project will deliver training and certification for instructors, industry trainers and assessors and briefings for managers and executives of enterprises. Consistent with employment trends of the RMG sector, most beneficiaries will be women and there is a 5 per cent target to include people with disabilities.
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