a year ago

Paradigm shift in skills and human development eco-system of Bangladesh

Published :

Updated :

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 15 as World Youth Skills Day, a momentous occasion that highlighted the global consensus on the significance of providing young individuals with the essential skills required for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. This annual celebration serves as a rallying point for people worldwide to unite in recognising the profound impact of skills development in empowering youth to navigate the constantly evolving labour market and actively contribute to their communities. Under the theme "Skilling teachers, trainers, and youth for a transformative future," this year's commemoration emphasises the pivotal role of educators in equipping young people with the competencies needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Bangladesh, a country with a growing young population and immense potential, has recognised the importance of addressing skills gap and placing emphasis on human development. In order to address the skills gap and bring about a transformation in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector, the government has embarked on a series of remarkable measures. One prominent initiative in this regard was the TVET Reform Project, implemented by the Government of Bangladesh in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and generously funded by the European Union. This project focused a concerted effort to revitalise and enhance the TVET sector, ensuring it is better equipped to meet the demands of a rapidly changing labour market. Through the implementation of comprehensive reforms and strategic partnerships, the government aims to bridge the skills gap and create a more effective and responsive TVET system that can contribute to the country's economic growth and human development.

In order to streamline and effectively coordinate the diverse range of skills development and training programmes being implemented by multiple ministries and divisions, the government introduced a comprehensive approach. This involved the formulation of National Skills Development Policy 2011, Quality Assurance System and NTVQF. The  policy serves as a strategic blueprint, bringing all skills development activities under one unified umbrella to ensure consistent quality and standards in TVET sector in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is making very good progress towards attaining faster economic growth to upgrade the standard of living of the people of all walks of life, and the growth of the economy achieved during the past few years is really commendable. The 8th Five Year Plan clearly says 'For Bangladesh's transition towards an upper-middle income country, increased investment in TVET will be crucial. Global experiences suggest that TVET sector expand with the development of a country. The academic streams will not be able to absorb all the children and importantly it will not be able to provide every necessary skill that be demanded in the future. It also says to achieve upper-middle income status by 2031 and particularly taking advantage from the fourth industrial revolution (4iR), up-gradation of both hard and soft skills will be crucial.  

Through these strategic initiatives, the government of Bangladesh is taking proactive steps to address the skills gap, promote standardisation, and enhance the quality of skills development programmes. By fostering coordination, establishing dedicated authorities, and securing sustainable funding, the government is paving the way for a more efficient and effective skills development ecosystem that can contribute to the country's overall growth and human development.

To fulfill the objectives of National Skills Development policy, 2011 the Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) started its wonderful journey from July 2014 with the financial support of ADB and Bangladesh government.  It has evolved from the government's efforts to address the skills gap and create a more inclusive and job-focused training system. SEIP is managed by the Finance Division and implemented in partnership mainly with three ministries, namely the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (BMET), Ministry of Education (DTE) Ministry of Industries (BITAC), along with the Bangladesh Bank, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), and 13 industry associations.

The government has initiated important reforms in the TVET sector with financial assistance of several development partners. Since the government made TVET a special focus sector, it has initiated the following major reform projects: i) TVET Reform Project; ii) Skills Development Project (SDP); iii) Skills and Training Enhancement Project; iv) B-SEP; v) The Skills 21 and vi) Accelerating and Strengthening Skills for Economic Transformation (ASSET). These projects essentially aim to reform TVET in the areas of access, inclusiveness, relevance and quality of training and are considered very timely and appropriate. 

SEIP, on the other hand, extends its support to qualitatively and quantitatively expand the skilling capacity of identified public and private training providers of Bangladesh by establishing market responsive skill ecosystem and delivery mechanisms through a combination of well-defined set of funding triggers and targeted capacity support.

SEIP has set ambitious objectives and strategies to impart market-responsive, job-focused, and inclusive training to individuals aged between 18 and 45 years. The programme aims to provide training to more than 0.8 million people by 2024, covering over 140 occupations. A significant focus of SEIP is to ensure at least 60 per cent of the trainees gain employment after completing the training. Public training institutes, industry associations, PKSF, and BB-SME are actively engaged in delivering SEIP training, to address a wide range of skill levels and industry requirements.

An essential element contributing to the success of the Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP) is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity. The programme has set a commendable target of ensuring at least 30 per cent women of its total trainees, actively promoting gender equality in skills development. This dedication to empowering women and providing them with equal opportunities highlights SEIP's commitment to fostering a more inclusive society.

SEIP recognises that creating an inclusive training environment goes beyond gender equality. The programme has reached out to individuals from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, those with physical challenged, and members of ethnic communities. Through targeted campaigns and awareness initiatives, SEIP encourages and supports the participation of these individuals in the skills training programmes. By actively promoting inclusivity and creating opportunities for marginalised groups, SEIP is not only empowering individuals but also contributing to a more equitable society. The programme's efforts  are to meant to ensure that everyone has access to quality training and skill development opportunities which are instrumental in bridging the gap and promoting social and economic empowerment. Through its inclusive approach, SEIP is setting an example and inspiring other initiatives to prioritise inclusivity in skills development endeavours.

An independent study on SEIP programme has revealed that 89.4 per cent of SEIP trainees found the training helpful to find the proper jobs. The study also finds that around 97 per cent of employers are satisfied with the performance and productivity of SEIP graduates.

There are several stories of young village-men and deprived girls who struggled to find employment after completing their higher secondary education. After getting enrolled in various training courses, they not only acquired valuable skills but also received jobs immediately after getting their certifications.  SEIP has been the driving force behind these success stories. It has established industry academia linkage by creating Executive Development Centres in 4 (four) reputed universities to develop 4000 highly skilled  managers for industries, reducing the dependency  on foreign managers . SEIP's impact goes beyond individual success stories. The programme has trained nearly 1 (one) lac drivers, 55,000 electrical maintenance workers, 90000 sewing machine operators, 28000 graphics designers, over 15,000 workers in shipbuilding, 9000 high-class managers for industries and other technical sectors, with a strong focus on meeting international standards. SEIP is arranging international certification in welding, electrical and culinary arts under globally renowned certifying body like DNV-GL, BV and City & Guilds.

It should be mentioned further, SEIP has developed a total of 145 competency standard with associated learning materials which have been approved by NSDA and BTEB. The international certification in some trades and skills obtained through SEIP have opened doors to employment opportunities not only within Bangladesh but also in countries like Oman, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Malaysia. SEIP project has been developing more than 8 (eight) lac skilled people within a period from 2015 to 2024 of whom at least 60 per cent will be placed in gainful employment. This will help Bangladesh to exploit demographic dividend by using its skilled labour force developed through different projects and programmes including the SEIP project.

SEIP's commitment to empowering women is evident through many success stories. Female trainees have found confidence and opportunities, contributing to their families and communities. Some have taken it upon themselves to train other women in their neighbourhoods, becoming catalysts for changing and inspiring others to become active contributors to society.

In order to enhance the training capacity of the training institutes, several activities such as the construction of infrastructure and supply of modern equipment have been undertaken under SEIP project. Massive infrastructural renovation work at a cost of Tk. 160 has been done at seven training institutes. These state-of-the-art institutes are not only simple establishments but also the birthplace of 'smart skills' to build 'Smart Bangladesh'. To develop technical skills aiming at the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a state-of-the-art building has been constructed and high-tech equipment has been procured for BITAC under the ministry of industries. Initiatives have also been taken to provide local as well as foreign training to trainers of BITAC. SEIP project has rebuilt three training centres of BITAC at Dhaka, Khulna and Sylhet. The initiative of creating a 'Knowledge Hub' for the construction industry at Uttara and the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurship Skill Centre at Gazipur is almost at the final stage. Since the path of women entrepreneurs is not easy, SEIP has helped to generate huge self-employment for women entrepreneurs by providing training through BWCCI and BBSME.

SEIP has also played a significant role in strengthening skills development institutions in Bangladesh. The establishment of the National Human Resource Development Fund (NHRDF) ensures continuous funding for deserving training institutes and enabling them to carry out their activities effectively. The National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) coordinates and improves skills development programs across various ministries, creating a standardized framework for assessment and certification. NSDA works for a broader aspect of TVET sector in Bangladesh. It is worthwhile to mention that SEIP has supported these two significant organisations in their creation and building the operational capabilities.

SEIP's success aligns with the objectives of World Youth Skills Day. By equipping young boys and girls with relevant skills and connecting them with employment opportunities, SEIP empowers the youth to contribute actively to their communities and societies. The programme not only addresses the skills gap but also promotes inclusive and sustainable development, aligned with the transformative future envisioned for the youth.

The uniqueness of SEIP is to boost the market-responsive skills training which encompasses the major sector of economy including government partners in skill development sector. 

The positive impact of SEIP goes beyond the realm of skills development. It plays a crucial role in realising the government's vision of a "Smart Bangladesh" by promoting economic growth, productivity increase, export diversification, and the production of high-value products. The programme contributes to the country's overall human capital development, leading to higher GDP growth and poverty alleviation.

SEIP has emerged as a paradigm-shift initiative in Bangladesh's skills and human development eco-system. Through its comprehensive approach, inclusive strategies, and strong partnerships with the Industry Associations, it equips the youth with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving labour market. This project has made a very effective collaboration between private and public domain and become a role-model of public-private-partnership. The programme's success stories and its alignment with World Youth Skills Day demonstrate the critical role of skills development in shaping a transformative future. As Bangladesh marches towards its goals of a smart and prosperous nation, project like SEIP will continue to play a pivotal role in building a skilled and empowered workforce, driving sustainable economic growth, and achieving the aspirations of its youth.


Fatema Rahim Veena, Executive Project Director (Additional Secretary), SEIP Project, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, GoB.


Share this news