Skills 21 – Empowering citizens for inclusive and sustainable growth

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.

Some two million people enter the Bangladesh workforce each year, however the capacity to provide skills training is limited. There is therefore a pressing need to help the country provide equitable and quality technical education capable of skilling and up skiiling large numbers of people to meet market demands.

This requires qualified teachers and assessors, up-to-date institutional facilities and a market driven competency-based inclusive skills system. These steps are crucial for enhancing labour productivity as well as facilitating industrialization, trade and inclusive economic growth.

The EU-funded ILO - implemented Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Project successfully implemented the reforms in the formal TVET system and set the foundation for the nascent National Skills Development System (NSDS) in Bangladesh. However, to successfully address the needs of the country’s growing workforce, the system needs strengthening, promotion, adoption/adaption, and replication by stakeholders.

The Project will take forward the achievements of the ongoing projects and address the next priority areas, in particular:
  • Continuous strengthening and improving the quality of the TVET/skills development system, including development of a National Qualification Framework (NQF) that would ensure harmonization of qualification pathways across primary, secondary, technical and higher education;
  • Improving access to and equity within the TVET/skills development system including through expanding the number of model TVET institutions for inclusive, environmentally conscious, quality and labour market-responsive skills development;
  • Establishing a more conducive legislative, regulatory and institutional environment through improved governance and management of the TVET/skills development system including, inter-alia, developing the mechanisms and elements for a Sector Wide Approach (SWAP) in the TVET/skills development sector;
  • The project also aims to support collaboration between companies and relevant training providers to develop and implement demand-driven education and training programs.

Skills 21 project highlights  


TVET COVID-19 Response plan: DTE, with technical support from the Skills 21 team, developed a COVID-19 TVET response plan. After mapping the effect of the pandemic in technical education, capacity of blended learning method, opportunities and challenges in online learning - the project structured the response plan with recommendations.

Skills training: 2,709 youth enrolled and 1,237 complete courses (27% of all students are female): Skills training in welding, graphic design, electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing, refrigeration & air conditioning, wood working machine operation, sewing machine operation and driving has been ongoing - via a blended learning system - throughout the pandemic at BS Polytechnic Institute Kaptai; Feni Polytechnic Institute; Gaibandha TTC; IMT Bagerhat; Jamalpur TSC; Khulna Mahila Polytechnic Institute and Sylhet TSC.

Centres for Skills Excellence (CSEs): Teacher Training: Over 1922 trainers and assessors have been trained in Level 4 Competency Based Training and Assessments through the CSE’s and partner institutes. In addition, 504 teachers completed the training for materials development and training delivery system, using the online platform.

550 complete entrepreneurship development training: Skills 21 partner institutes and SIYB Foundation conducted blended Entrepreneurship Development Training (EDT) for 550 prospective entrepreneurs. In addition, 13 master trainers and 60 trainers trained to roll out EDT programme.

E-Campus: 176 online training materials: A team of trained TVET teachers produced 176 e-learning products ranging from video lectures and supplementary text materials. The content is now available in the e-campus, and the respective Facebook and YouTube pages of the respective TVET institutes.

45 master trainers trained:
Six master trainers trained 45 trainers on online materials development and training delivery through a two-months long distance learning programme facilitated by ITCILO.

RPL: 2,311 workers assessed: 2,311 (1999 Male, 312 Female) took part in Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessments. In total, 1787 (1556 Male, 231 Female) obtained skills certificate level 1 in different occupations.