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Upgrading skills in Bangladesh: Lower staff turnover, higher benefits for employers and employees alike

Lack of opportunities for acquiring and upgrading skills in a systematic manner is a major constraint for the development of the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry. The ILO is helping companies to meet this challenge.

Feature | Dhaka, Bangladesh | 03 October 2017
The Enterprise-Based Training Centre benefits employees and employer alike
DHAKA, Bangladesh (ILO News) – Staff turnover presents a huge challenge to garment manufacturers in Bangladesh as workers move from factory to factory due to a variety of reasons, or drop out the industry altogether.

Knit Concern Apparel, a major producer of high-quality knit apparel and lingerie, located in an industrial suburb close to Dhaka, is no exception, with some 3 to 5 per cent of its 15,000-strong work force moving on every month. This prompted the company to establish an in-house Enterprise-Based Training (EBT) center in 2015 with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Knit Concern's Enterprise-Based Training centre
The Knit Concern EBT Centre is well-equipped with a practice floor, including 120 machines and a class room. Six full-time trainers work at the Centre all of whom received training from the ILO Centre of Excellence project which is funded by Sweden and international retailer H&M. The initiative also supported the development of course curricula and helped support Knit Concern to establish and run the EBT as per the guidelines of the National Skills Training Policy, 2011.

Aligning skills with needs

“The factory spends a significant amount to manage the training center. But the overall benefit is much higher than the management cost,” said Nasim Ahmed, Director of Knit Concern Group.

“Workers spend nearly two years as helpers to learn basic operations which can be learned during a few weeks of intense training”, said Ahmed. “The EBT Centre has enabled us to meet the gap from staff turnover by producing more skilled workers. It has also helped us to eliminate helpers from our factory, who have the chance to train as machine operators. This eases the pressure on the floor and utility services and helps ensure a healthy atmosphere. Skilled workers receive increased wages and above all our productivity increases.”

Successful trainees of the Knit Concern's Enterprise-Based Training Centre are awarded certificates
The EBT Centre at Knit Concern has already been certified as a Registered Training Organization (RTO) by the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB). External assessors, accredited by BTEB, assess the trainers and successful trainees are awarded certificates by BTEB which are recognized country-wide.

The EBT Centre benefits employees and employer alike, boosting the skills of workers so they can earn higher salaries while ensuring a steady flow of trained newcomers

“We provide training to about 100 people per month. Some of the trainees may subsequently go to work at other companies. This may seem like a loss but if the skills of our trained workers are used in other garment factories, I believe this is a contribution from us to the RMG sector,” Mr Ahmed adds.

Ms Tania Akhter
The EBT centers are also helping give young women – who make up the bulk of the Bangladesh garment workforce – a chance to gain a foothold in the industry and skills to build on for the future.

Amongst those who have been trained is Tania Akhter who heard about the in-house training center from her sister, a Knit Concern employee. After completing 60 days training, Tania landed a job at Knit Concern as an overlock sewing machine operator.

“The trainers were very efficient and cordial. This helped us to become skilled workers within a short period of time,” Tania said. “I am also very happy to receive a certificate from the Bangladesh Technical Education Board as this recognition has boosted my confidence to develop my career.” 

ILO Bangladesh Country Director Srinivas Reddy highlighted the importance of this approach: “The EBT Centre benefits Bangladesh’s garment industry’s employers and employees alike. The Enterprise Based Training ensures that companies gain employees with exactly the skills they need while giving workers the chance to both earn more as well as have their skills upgraded and recognized nationally.” 

Knit Concern is one of ten companies in the Bangladesh garment sector which have launched Enterprise Based Training schemes with the support of the ILO’s Centre for Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industry project which is supported by Sweden and H&M and carried out in collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh.

For more information, please contact:

Khadija Khondker
ILO Bangladesh
khondker@ilo.org