International Skills Conference 2019

ILO and Partners Pledge to Develop 21st Century Skills for Bangladesh

Press release | 09 March 2019
The Honorable Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury with the ministers in Skills conference
ILO NEWS DHAKA- Globalization and technological advancement has been changing the world of work. Importance of technology based skills such as orientation with automation is increasing globally. The techno-logical advancements have made the skills requirement unpredictable, as a result, workers with a higher adaptive skill are being valued more and more.

Based on this, Technical and Madrasah Education Division (TMED) of Education Ministry of Bangladesh organized- a two day long International Skills Conference during 9-10 March 2019. The Honorable Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury inaugurated the conference along with four ministers.

The objective of the conference was to share the knowledge and best practices in skills development to unlock the skills potential of the developing country.

114 delegates from 12 countries were participated at the event. They have emphasized on urgent need for public and private investments and cooperation in education and skills training to ensure human capital development and preparedness for the future of work. Apart from technical knowledge and skills, much emphasis has been placed on the importance of developing the soft skills in the workers, such as communication and social skills.

The guests expressed their concerns for the labor market of Bangladesh and hoped that the conference would aid in formulating initiatives to upskill the workforce and make it highly efficient.

Including the plenary and closing session, there were five sessions on the global context to develop higher skilled human resources, skills on the context of 4th industrial revolution, skills development for informal economy, labour migration, and partnership for skills development.

In the plenary session, Dr. Zahid Hussain, Chief Economist of World Bank said that even though the employment model has been adapted as the national development model, the effects are yet to be reflected. According to him, it is imperative that the government, private sector and development partners work together to reach the coveted objectives.

Establishment of mutual recognition for skills and a qualification framework has been focused by different panelists in all the sessions. It has been said that Bureau of Manpower and Employment Training (BMET) is currently working on developing an international skills certification system with different countries, to make overseas work more accessible.

ILO emphasized on creating a national repository of qualifications which can match and compete with any global standard. ILO also focused on updating the Labor Market Information System (LMIS) with current information for both domestic and overseas market.

Harnessing the skills that highly experienced migrant workers bring back into the country in up-skilling the current labor force is of utmost importance according migration expert Professor C R Abrar.

Syed Nasim Manzur, former President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, spoke for the private sector in terms of the challenges faced by the industry in recognizing the industry standard. He said that the standards should be made more realistic and labor force skills should be improved according to that.

Importance of the informal sector in developing the economy has also been a key discussion point in the conference. With the right policies and innovative solutions it is expected that the maximum potential of this sector can be harnessed. Among others, providing financial support for micro entrepreneurship and TVET to the underprivileged, were highly recommended in the sessions.

Md. Faruque Hossain, Executive Chairman of National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) talked about the unaddressed gap between demand and supply of skilled workers, both domestic and overseas. Trainings should be more job focused to resolve the actual and expected output disparity.

Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director for ILO Bangladesh said that creating millions of jobs cannot be done by the Government alone; it requires the long-term commitment of a wide cross-section of society, including public and private sector institutions and development partners.

The conference ended up with a pledge by the development partners and government for strategic partnerships among them for sustainable infrastructural skills development. The conference was supported by ILO, European Union, Government of Canada, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh Employers Federation and Brac.