Skills for care can generate jobs in future

In Asia, due to the constantly increasing number of old people, there is and will continuously be an increasing demand for care workers. Simultaneously, there will be the need of developing capacities for growing the care sector.

ILO’s European Union-funded project Skills 21 and International Training Centre (ITC) (the Turin, Italy based training arm of ILO) in Dhaka, organized a workshop on “Care sector approaches to skill development” held on January 21-22, 2019. The workshop focused on opportunities that the care economy offers to address the status of the Bangladesh care sector and find out the way forward to develop the caregivers' skills to meet the domestic and international market needs.

It had participants ranging from researchers, the private sector and policymakers from the ASEAN countries, Bangladesh, China, Qatar, India and Vietnam. As part of inter-country care service experience, four speakers respectively from China, Qatar, India and Vietnam have presented their country experiences on the caregiver to the audiences.

Skills 21 project manager Snehal Soneji referred ILO’s report on titled “Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work”, which defines paid care work as work performed for pay or profit by care workers. Workers in the care economy comprise a wide range of personal service workers, such as nurses, teachers, doctors and personal care workers. Domestic workers, who provide both direct and indirect care (e.g. cooking and cleaning) in households, are also part of the care workforce.
It has been observed that due to the booming of the aging population in Asia, the demand for care service is increasing over time and particularly it is happening for the country’s economic growth.

The experiences of the care economy in Bangladesh are also discussed at the workshop. Participants agreed that since the Bangladeshi caregivers' demand already exists in different countries especially in GCC countries, their salary and other benefits would be more attractive if we can take sufficient initiatives to improve their skills appropriately. The participants also conceded that searching a new job market for trained Bangladeshi caregivers should be the prioritized issue to the government now.

Yordanka Tzvetkova, Manager of Brics Programme, International Training Centre, ILO said, “It is evident that more economically advanced countries attach a higher value to care sector jobs, invest in very intensive training of care workers, and create better-paid care jobs than is the case in less developed countries”.

The key discussions at the workshop focused on the need for caregivers to be skilled not only in practical aspects of care giving but on the cultural aspects of the host families. Given the intimate nature of care services that are often involved, possessing soft skills (e.g. how not to speak loudly which may startle a senior citizen or how to be a good active listener and possess language skills that allow easy communication with the host) is as important as possessing hard skills (e.g. transferring a senior citizen efficiently, safely and in a dignified manner from the bed to a wheelchair).

Furthermore, soon the job opportunity for caregivers is also be generated in the domestic employment market as well as abroad. The decisions were taken jointly from the workshop are :
a) Young who reached 18 would be given more priority to enroll in the courses;
b) More attention should be given in the foreign job market in the initial stage;
c) Existing courses should review after the consultation with the relevant key stakeholders;
d) Both hard and soft skills training will be provided equally;
e) Care services will be considered as gender-neutral task;
f) Although general training will be provided towards the trainee primarily, business or entrepreneurial training also will be provided if required;
g) Both Govt. and private sector will engage equally to operate the programs;
h) Existing standards for caregiver service will be followed in seven model institutes;
i) Established protocol will be followed for developing the modules;
j) As a promotional initiative, success stories could be published into the national news portals titled on how vocational caregiver training changes the life.
Skills 21 project implemented by ILO in Bangladesh has included care giving as one of the occupations in which short-term courses will be offered through some of the seven model institutions that the project works with. It aims to support the Government of Bangladesh to improve the skills of the young population and support their integration into the labour market. The additional positive effect will be by helping them to find jobs in the care economy to help them upgrade their skills to be able to move to higher skill and competency levels.

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.