ILO and Government host high-level international webinar to address needs of migrant workers with in-demand skills but no certification

Skills experts share ‘good practices’ on how to scale up Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to secure decent work for millions of workers in global job markets

Press release | 01 September 2020
DHAKA (ILO News)- The International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment hosted a high-level international webinar, titled Recognition of Prior Learning for Migrant Workers in Asia, to look at the need to assess and certify the skills of millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Presenters share ‘good practices’ on how to scale up RPL
Over 130 participants from across Asia, Europe and the Middle East who are involved in implementing RPL from government, development partners, and employers shared their views on skills recognition, certification and decent jobs.

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process helps individuals acquire a formal qualification that matches their knowledge and skills, and contributes to improving their employability, mobility, lifelong learning, social inclusion and self-esteem.

According to a recent IOM Study, 60 per cent of Bangladeshi migrants who have returned home due to the fallout of COVID-19 on global markets, expressed a genuine desire to upgrade and certify their skills. Moreover, 75% of them said that once the international labour market re-opens, they would like to work in a country where their core skills would be recognised and justly rewarded.

An ILO report also found that almost one-third of men and women who had returned because of the pandemic, said they had learned new skills or greatly improved existing skills. However, without credible RPL certification to prove they possessed these newly formed skills and experiences, they could not capitalise on their skills.

According to the BTEB, there are presently 411 RPL centres in the country and these facilities have provided certificates to 41,560 workers. The challenge now is to link the centres with the migrant returnees who have returned home but also seek to offer certification for millions who are still working overseas.

RPL experts from the EU, Bangladesh, Jordan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka presented ‘good practices’ on RPL certification and the long-term benefits for migrant workers.

Based on the webinar, the recommendations for the RPL system in Bangladesh include:
  • A pass like the ‘Euro Pass’ that confirms the level of skills or learning outcomes that have been attained, whether via formal, non-formal or informal learning contexts;
  • A skills passport to help categorise migrant workers and returnee workers by skills 'type'. This also helps bridge gaps in the labour market locally and overseas;
  • Introduce an e-RPL and e-assessment to make the system more accessible for migrant workers;
  • RPL for refugee and host communities to facilitate migrant workers’ transition to international labour markets;
  • Increase awareness about RPL and its multiple benefits among migrant workers; and
  • Set-up more RPL centres in countries of destination.
The webinar also featured important contributions from Md. Nazibul Islam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment; Dr. Mohammad Abul Hasan, Economic Minister in Bangladesh mission in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA); Dr. Md. Morad Hossain Mollah, Chairman, Bangladesh Technical Education Board and Rahnuma Salam Khan, Deputy Chief, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.

“By addressing the recommendations from this webinar we can built a strong RPL system for migrant workers to better reintegrate them into the society and prepare them for overseas job opportunities in post COVID-19”- said Md. Nazibul Islam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment.

The Economic Minister of Embassy of Bangladesh mission in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr. Mohammad Abul Hasan explained how the Embassy has already started implementing RPL in Saudi Arabia to support Bangaldesh’s migrant workers. The Embassy has opened eight digital skills assessment labs with teams of trained assessors. The embassy will is now looking to launch a mobile RPL assessment bus to further expand the programme.

“The recognition of skills gained abroad or in the country of origin is a key factor for the smooth transition to decent work for millions of migrant workers,” said Kishore Kumar Singh, Chief Technical Adviser, Skills 21 project, ILO. “This is why it’s so important to have a well-functioning RPL assessment system in place in the country of origin and destination. This helps recognise their skills and fit them into the labour market on a continuous basis. Only then can we secure better pay and better protection for migrant workers”.

ILO’s EU funded Skills 21 Project is further addressing the needs of returnee migrants by working on a sustainable and scalable reintegration of workers domestically through up skilling, retraining, skills recognition, and job placement. The scheme will work by assessing the level of a worker’s skills, the status of their certification, and their investment potential to start small or medium-enterprises.