‘Skills 21’ set to drive Bangladesh skills sector development to next level

A new skills development programme implemented by ILO and funded by the European Union (EU) will build on the achievements of earlier EU/ILO initiatives to modernise the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in Bangladesh.

News | 13 December 2016
(from left) Minister of Education, Nurul Islam Nahid; Secretary of Education; ILO Director-General Guy Ryder; EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon; Secretary of Education Md. Sohorab Hossain; and UN Resident Coordinator Robert Watkins take part in the signing.©ILO
At a ceremony held in Dhaka 12 December, a Joint Declaration on the launch the ‘Skills 21 – Empowering citizens for inclusive and sustainable growth’ project was signed by representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, EU and ILO. The total budget for the initiative is EUR20 million of which the EU will contribute EUR19.5 million.

Secretary of Education, Mr. Md. Sohorab Hossain signed on behalf of the Government while Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon and Director-General Guy Ryder inked the agreement for the EU and ILO respectively. Honourable Minister of Education, Mr. Nurul Islam Nahid, MP, witnessed the event.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh, the Honourable Minister of Education said, “This initiative will support the Government’s commitments to inclusive economic growth and full and productive employment for all. A skilled and productive workforce will make a major contribution to our goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021. The launch of the Skills 21 project will provide further assistance to our national efforts to create an effective, demand driven skills system that will meet the needs and aspirations of our people, especially the two million who enter the workforce every year.”

EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said, “To ensure the sustainability of its economic growth, Bangladesh is in need of a skilled labour force. After the completion of the EU funded TVET reform project, which helped Bangladesh define a National Skills Development policy, the EU will continue its support with the new Skills 21 programme to further develop and complete the establishment of a comprehensive and coherent TVET system and its institutional setup, for long term effectiveness. This EU funded intervention will also aim at creating the conditions for a sector wide approach for the TVET policy area in Bangladesh. In doing so, we will also be instrumental in creating more skilled trainers and more diversified job opportunities for young Bangladeshis". 

A modern and inclusive skills system will provide a solid base for the future development of Bangladesh. The Skills 21 initiative will build on past achievements and ultimately provide greater access to quality vocational training for men and women alike.
- Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General of ILO
The earlier EU-funded TVET Reform Project which ended in December 2015 successfully established the foundation for the new, demand-driven, competency-based system for skills development in Bangladesh including reforms in the formal TVET system – a reform initiative that has been widely acknowledged and rated as highly successful by the professional community in the region as well as at global level. Set to run from January 2017 to December 2020, Skills 21 will strengthen the National Skills Development System by continuing earlier reforms and by developing a National Qualifications Framework. It will work with the Government to improve the governance aspects within the skills development sector, and directly with TVET institutions to introduce the entire reform package of new quality assured programmes, trained instructors and management as well as services for career guidance and job placement. The project also aims to support partnerships between private sector and relevant training providers to develop and implement effective professional education and training programmes.

Given the importance of labour migration in the Bangladesh economy, Skills 21 will also include actions for the integration of migration issues in the Skills Development System. The programme will support the returning migrants as well as those aspiring to migrate so they are able to secure better paid work.

The project will be implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry Of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, National Skills Development Council Secretariat, Directorate of Technical Education, Bangladesh Technical Education Board and Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.

With Skills 21, Bangladesh will benefit its demographic dividend not just in quantity but also in quality.