Skills stories

Equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

The ILO’s work in Bangladesh focuses on competency-based training and assessment linked with the modern day job market to facilitate lifelong learning and access to Decent Work.

Feature | 10 February 2022

Tayaba Khanam Era, 23, struggled to pursue her dream to become a graphic designer. After her father lost his job and her family faced financial struggles, she was destined to get married and give up professional ambitions. But through the help of a scholarship, she completed a certification course at the Polytechnic Institute. She became proficient not only as a graphic designer but also in online business and other information technology-related fields.

“The training helped make me confident that I can do anything and everything I want. I was under pressure to marry and make my family. But I proved that a woman's place is where she wants to be.” Tayaba Khanam Era

Demand-driven competency based training, supported by the EU-funded ILO Skills 21 project, “Empowering Citizens for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”, set her on a new life path. She was able to get a job in the field doing something she loves and she is now able to support herself and her family.

"I enjoy my work, and I am now working on upgrading my skills to Level 2, in order to become an entrepreneur in the future. I hope that many others like me who have dropped out of school can also begin a new life by learning technical skills.” Tayaba Khanam Era
The ILO’s work in Bangladesh focuses on competency-based training and assessment linked with the modern day job market to facilitate lifelong learning and access to Decent Work. The Bangladesh National Qualifications Framework has been developed and approved by authorities. This framework provides the qualifications structure that enables those in the informal sector to be properly recognized for their competancies, which in turn improves labour mobility. Specifically, it addresses the fragmentation of qualifications by bringing schools, higher education sectors, TVET institutions, and the country’s Islamic education into one harmonized framework.

In this historic collaboration, one of the targets as a whole was to certify 3,500 workers through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). In 2020 and the first half of 2021 alone, more than half of that target was met, with industry workers getting certified, paving their way to higher-paying work with better working conditions. This framework was also applied by The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment -- in charge of migrant workers -- which is now offering RPL in the Ministry's training centres. These actions were especially important during the global pandemic, when those in the informal sector -- with poor job stability -- were the hardest hit.

Plus, a large-scale study identified nine market-driven occupations in demand and based on that study, competency-based programmes were developed for TVET institutions, and implementation is ongoing. The programmes are tailored to include social inclusion strategies for women, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples; as well as green strategies and initiatives; and lastly employment support services.

To make the programmes even more inclusive and adapted to lockdowns and restrictions, online learning was introduced. To set the stage for years to come, a revised National Skills Development Policy 2021 and a draft National Action Plan for Skills Development is in the process of being finalized, which will be instrumental in implementing policy frameworks that support skills development strategies at a national level.

“I want to involve other women to engage with skills training and ensure their livelihoods by themselves. That will change their lives.” Tayaba Khanam Era

In numbers:

  • 4,811 young people have been trained in ILO’s current TVET programs; partner institutes were supported to develop and implement gender mainstreaming strategies and action plans.
  • 1,875 young people have been trained on entrepreneurship to enable them to start viable businesses and to increase the profitability of their existing enterprises.
  • 13 master trainers and 60 trainers are ready to roll out entrepreneurship training
  • 2,748 industry workers have been certified through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
  • 9 Institution Management Advisory Boards have been formed
  • 140 TVET principals and teachers were engaged in policy dialogue and among these 140 officials, 40 were further trained on policy review and analysis.
  • 2,925 people received competency-based programme that allowed them to become TVET trainers and assessors
  • 690 instructors were trained in the delivery of blended learning, and production of e-learning resources