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Bangladesh showcases achievements in skill development at Global Skills Forum

DHAKA (ILO News) – The essential role that skills and lifelong learning play in improving the employability and productivity of the workforce, attracting investment and fostering national economic growth is well recognized.

Bangladesh has formulated a National Skills Development Policy and established a unified national qualifications framework to improve recognition of qualifications and upskilling of the workforce. Furthermore, the traditional TVET system has evolved into an industry-relevant and skills-focused model.

These transformations reflect the Government’s commitment to its development vision, complemented by significant financial contributions from development partners and technical expertise provided, in particular, by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

However, challenges remain in realizing the Government of Bangladesh’s vision for the national skills system. Therefore, the Global Skills Forum, organized by the ILO Skills and Employability Service on 23 and 24 April, which had invited constituents and development partners to discuss skills challenges and partnerships in a changing world, featured an exclusive session dedicated to Bangladesh. This high-level panel, held at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, was attended by the Honorable Minister of Education of the Government of Bangladesh, Mr. Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, as well as senior representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations and key development partners, the European Union and the Government of Canada.

During the session, participants deliberated on Bangladesh’s achievements, current challenges and proposed strategies to promote the national skill system through targeted strategies and collaborative partnerships. Mr. Srinivas ReddyHead of the ILO Skills and Employability Service, moderated the session, which began with a video showcasing Bangladesh’s major achievements in skills development.

Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, the Director-General of the ILO, enhanced the session with his presence and joined the high-level panel for his intervention. Mr Houngbo praised the beneficial long-term partnerships between the Government of Bangladesh, the ILO, the EU and Canada, recognizing their mutually reinforcing contributions to Bangladesh’s skills development goals. Mr. Houngbo underlined the importance of climate change mitigation and adaptation through green skills development, as well as promoting social cohesion and employment by ensuring accessibility and inclusivity of the skills development system.

Mr. Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, Minister of Education of Bangladesh, highlighted Bangladesh’s significant progress in skills development, particularly in ensuring accessibility and equity for marginalized groups such as women, indigenous communities and people with disabilities. These efforts are closely aligned with the Government’s stated policy objectives and development priorities. However, the Minister highlighted the need to overcome the skills mismatch between the industry’s high-skill needs and the generally low-skilled workforce, both nationally and more broadly. The Minister urged industrial sectors and development partners to take proactive measures to promote lifelong learning and enhance skills development, especially in emerging industrial sectors such as pharmaceuticals, ICT and agri-food processing.

Mr. Farooq Ahmed, General Secretary of Bangladesh Employers Federation, highlighted the essential role of the private sector in skill development, incl. the need for more apprenticeships in skills development and job creation, as well as facilitating a smooth transition from education to employment. He advocated for incentives to encourage businesses to adopt and increase the quantity and quality of applied learning models and emphasized the comprehensive need for industry-relevant TVET.

Ms. Saki Rezwana, Secretary of the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress, drew attention to the obstacles faced by workers striving to acquire advanced skills suitable for the labor market. He advocated for social dialogue and greater participation of workers’ organizations and the need to accelerate the implementation of the Bangladesh National Qualifications Framework to facilitate lifelong learning and formal recognition of workers’ skills.

Carlos Whiteley, The Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Bangladesh highlighted the EU’s commitment to improving the skills of the Bangladeshi workforce, not only for domestic employment, but also for international labor markets. He highlighted the EU’s support for upcoming talent partnerships between Bangladesh and key EU Member States for skilled migration of Bangladeshi workers to the EU through legal migration pathways, as well as plans to support diversification of the base. of production of industrial sectors through the Gateway collaboration.

Mr. Thomas WagnerAmbassador, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, affirmed the EU’s continued support for the modernization of skills systems in partner countries in all regions, focusing particularly on improving provision of relevant skills for the industry in the coming years.

Mrs Patricia McCullagh, Minister Counselor and Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva highlighted Canada’s recent initiatives that fund projects aimed at empowering vulnerable communities through training and job creation. He reiterated Canada’s commitment to collaborating with the ILO and Bangladesh to ensure decent work opportunities for millions of Bangladeshi citizens.

All panel representatives commended the Government of Bangladesh, the ILO and Development Partners for their long-term partnership since 2007, which brought about significant transformations of the national skills system, and expressed their commitment to continuing beneficial partnerships in the future. to further strengthen the economic and social development of Bangladesh, in line with the Government’s vision.