Partnerships for sustainable disability inclusion in private sector jobs

16 million people in Bangladesh live with a disability, according to estimates by the Centre for Disability in Development. Promoting access for persons with disabilities to skills and jobs is a key priority of the ILO and the government as well as an important area of reform in Bangladesh’s skills development system.

News | 25 August 2015
The Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity Project undertook a series of steps in the last twelve months to promote disability inclusion, both on the skills demand (industry) side and supply (training institutions and potential TVET candidates) side.

On the demand side, a series of sensitisation workshops started with key industry representatives. Workshops began in December 2015, with the first one bringing together Industry Skills Councils in six priority industry sectors (tourism, agro-food processing, furniture, ceramics, pharmaceuticals and IT) to sensitize representatives on the potential of disability inclusion.

The workshop identified six action points to promote disability inclusion in employment. These included; (i) sector-wise gender disaggregated data on disability employment rate; (ii) linkage with Disabled Persons Organizations for sensitization and support; (iii) linkages with technical institutions training persons with disability; (iv) industry’s policy with commitment to disability inclusion; (v) encouraging persons with disability to apply in the advertisements for skilled workers; (vi) industries’ exposure to best practices. The workshop also suggested developing an action plan for disability inclusion with each industry sector separately to optimize the potential of disability inclusion in sector specific occupations.

Following on from those recommendations, the B-SEP Project held a workshop with the Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Skills Council on disability inclusion in March, 2015 to identify specific actions within the above mentioned six identified areas. The participants identified a number of actions, both for the Industry Skills Council and other stakeholders to undertake.
A key decision was to organise a high profile seminar with employers, disability organizations and representatives of concerned government ministries to develop a sustainable model of disability inclusion in private sector jobs. It would also be a forum to secure commitment from employers to employ disabled people.

In addition, the B-SEP Project is assisting the National Skills Development Council to develop a national social marketing plan, which will include a focus on disability. Capacity building initiatives on disability inclusion have also been undertaken with key project stakeholders; employers and TVET institutions. Stakeholders are starting to see disability in a positive light and initiatives are being met favourably. The challenge that the project is responding to now is converting this general goodwill into outcomes for persons with disabilities.

The ILO is currently working with the Government of Bangladesh to reform the skills development system through two major initiatives; a CAD19.5 million grant from Canada for the Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project, and a Euro 14 million grant from the European Union for the TVET Reform in Bangladesh Project.

See the National Skills Development Policy (English/Bangla) here