CEBAI reviews achievements and looks to future

Center of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI) looks to reinforce efforts to build skills and productivity in garment sector

BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman, Swedish Ambassador Charlotta Schlyter and CEBAI President Md. Atiqul Islam with beneficiaries of CEBAI activities
The contribution of the Center of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI) towards enhancing skills in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry was recognised at a workshop held in Dhaka 12 December 2017. Speakers also highlighted the need for CEBAI to play an ongoing role in helping the sector remain among the world’s top RMG exporters.

CEBAI was launched in November 2014 by the Hon Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to address the skills gap in the RMG sector. CEBAI is run by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and up until November 2017 was supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Sweden and leading international fashion retailer H&M.

Md. Atiqul Islam, CEBAI President said, “While much has been accomplished, CEBAI is still in its infancy. We must continue to nurture it so that it is able to provide the support industry needs to move up the value chain and gain further share in the world market.”

The vision of CEBAI is to establish a replicable model of industry-driven training and support services in Bangladesh. Its actions have benefitted workers and employers alike as it has helped create a firm foundation for future skills development in the sector.

Also speaking at the event, Siddiqur Rahman, President, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said, “For the industry to fulfil its true potential we need to upgrade the skills of our workforce. There is also a strong need for research that will guide the development of the industry. Looking forward, CEBAI should continue to play a key role to meet both these requirements.”

Achievements include the establishment of the CEBAI Training Centre in Ashulia where a variety of courses for basic sewing machine operators, supervisory and management skills are being taught. Training methods and curricula that meet the demands of industry have been introduced. New competency standards and curricula developed as part of the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework (NTVQF) offer basic operator skills in knitwear, denim, lingerie and woven products. Meanwhile, Recognition of Prior Learning which allows workers to become certified by having their skills gained through work or past experience assessed has also been introduced.

Industry needs are being met though the piloting of Enterprise Based Training (EBT) facilities in ten leading RMG groups which have seen over 4,100 workers trained. Having an in-house EBT centre helps companies eliminate helpers, and develop the capacity of existing workers/employees resulting in increased productivity and higher wages. Collaboration with Muslim Aid, UCEP and the Bangladesh-Korea Technical Training Centre has seen 480 disadvantaged people in Dhaka and Chittagong gain access to training and RMG jobs. Meanwhile the initiative has also supported three leading RMG companies, Ananta, Bitopi and Shin Shin groups to sign an Inclusive Business Policy to promote gender equality and create better access for persons with disabilities, a step which can be a model for other companies in the industry.

Srinivas Reddy, ILO Country Director for Bangladesh said, “Although prospects in this sector are bright, the Bangladesh RMG industry has enormous scope to improve productivity through skills development. I call on the industry to look at what CEBAI has achieved and to build further on these efforts to achieve a more flexible, demand-driven and inclusive skills development system in Bangladesh.

The workshop was held at the BGMEA Apparel Club in Dhaka. Also taking part were HE Ms. Charlotta Schlyter, Ambassador of Sweden; Mr. Kiron Gokathoti Sustainability Manager H&M Bangladesh; and Mr. Aftab Uddin Ahmad, CEO, CEBAI.