National level roundtable discussion on Investment in Skills Development in Government’s 8th Five Year Plan

ILO’s European Union funded project Skills 21 organized a roundtable discussion on investment in skills development in Government's 8th Five Year Plan with the development partners, planning commission and the constituents in collaboration with the Daily Prothom Alo on 23 October 2019.

ILO Country Director, NSDA Executive Chair, Member Secretary Planning Commission and European Union representative at the discussion
Quality training is needed to address skills gaps in the private sector. Besides, coordination among the training providers should be ensured to reap the full potential of training programmes in the country said development partners, training providers and employers at the roundtable discussion on “Investment on skill development in 8th five-year plan” organized by ILO’s European Union funded project Skills 21 and the Daily Prothom Alo ( Country’s highest circulated newspaper).

Professor Shamsul Alam, Member Secretary of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission, said the country had a large number of public and private universities and many institutions were providing training but the private sector suffered from a dearth of skilled labour. It indicates that the skills system needs coordinated investment and planning. “The private sector doesn’t want certificates but quality skills, so our government emphasised on it but the private sector will also have to work with us hand in hand,” said Alam.

Professor Alam, who works in the formulation of five-year plans, said the government will put emphasis on rising economic growth, reducing income inequality and tackling impacts of climate change in skills development sector of the 8th Five Year Plan.

Md. Faruque Hossain, Executive Chair of the National Skills Development Authority (NSDA), said many development partners, government entities and NGOs were providing training but there was a lack of coordination. As a result, some people got more training than they required and some none at all.

On the other hand, some people are availing the training but are not skilled enough or not aware of the market demand for which they remained unemployed. “So, coordination is needed among all the training providers,” he said.

Bangladesh is currently in an era of enjoying demographic dividend, so skilled-based training is very important to provide jobs to youths, said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director for the ILO Bangladesh. He said the training policy in the upcoming five-year plan should be inclusive, taking into account women and marginalised people. Investment is needed to form a platform for matchmaking employers with employees so as to find out which skills were in demand and for trainees to get jobs at proper places, he added.

According to a survey of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), at least 13 percent of Bangladeshi garment factories hire skilled people from India, Sri Lanka and many other countries whereas a huge number of local people were searching for jobs but could not find any. CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem said that the government should focus on the marginalised people so that they could lead better lives.

Hans Lambrecht, first secretary, Team Leader Education & Human Development at the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh said the government now has to formulate a comprehensive strategy in the skills sector, and invests efficiently in it; we are more likely to assist that administration, even with small contributions.

Kamran T Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, said the country was not producing enough jobs for the increasing number of young jobseekers. So, the government should find out what skills they required for being employable abroad. “We have to focus on creating entrepreneurs who will create jobs for others,” he said, adding that skills development should be based on mid- and long-term strategies.

The speakers emphasised carrying out surveys to identify the skills that would be needed in the future. They also called for prioritising skills based on IT, nursing and agro-processing.

The recommendations came from the discussion are stated below:
• Invest in advanced technology for the development of the technical education sector to meet the demands of the market.
• Increase investment to identify and create new jobs for skills development.
• Invest in seed funding to convert skilled youths into entrepreneurs, who will in turn create more employment opportunities.
• Identify the skill-based sectors under various ministries and allocate budget/investment accordingly.
• Work on skills development in relation to trade and export.
• Appoint teachers to fill vacancies in government polytechnic and vocational institutes.
• Invest in providing trainers to polytechnic institutes and technical schools and colleges with updated skills training.
• Invest in establishing polytechnic institutes, such as Nanyang Polytechnic, in Bangladesh.
• Determine the demand for skills and invest in skilled manpower in the service sector.
• Ensure advanced skills training before sending workers abroad.
• Take measures to make NTVQF training compulsory at all levels and invest accordingly.
• Coordinate the establishment of eight skill hubs at the departmental level to build the skills ecosystem.
• Create a database for people and women who are left behind and people with disabilities, and invest in their skills development.

Skills 21 project is a joint initiative of the Government of Bangladesh and the International Labour Organization (ILO), funded by the European Union. The project seeks to increase productivity and employment opportunities through an environmentally conscious, inclusive, demand-driven, and interlinked skills development system responding to the needs of the labour market.