Skills shortages in the private sector are a serious constraint to economic growth. It is widely recognised that the skills system in Bangladesh must be strengthened to support national development. Bangladesh’s National Skills Development Policy was developed in 2011 to guide skill development strategies and facilitate improved co-ordination of all elements of skills training and the parties involved. It aims to contribute to the implementation of other national economic, employment, and social policies so that Bangladesh can achieve its goal of attaining middle income status in 2021.
Skills development is therefore a major priority of the Government of Bangladesh. In addition, development partners/international donors have also committed to supporting the Government of Bangladesh in addressing this. The role of industry and employers in shaping the skills requirements is critical and the National Skills Development Council (NSDC) Secretariat is actively engaged in the establishment and further work of Industry Skills Councils (ISCs).
In light of all this, the British Council,in partnership with the NSDC Secretariat, hosted a three-day workshop on Industry-Responsive Skills: A Roadmap for Development in December 2014.
The joint initiative had emphasis on the importance of skills development in national economic and social growth and also the importance of ensuring that this development is industry relevant and responsive, with ISCs playing a critical role.
During the three day workshop both parties worked with a wide range of key stakeholders from both government and industry, allowing employers to reflect on the benefits of such an approach. It also received interest from development partners and senior directors of current skills projects. Special focus was given to construction and construction-related work as this is one of the key sectors in Bangladesh.
The British Council invited Jonathan Ledger and Tony Howard, two consultants from the UK, who provided insights into the role of Skills Councils in the UK. Chris Cooper, Senior Skills Adviser from the British Council, and Louise Cowcher, Director Development Contracts and Education and Skills Specialist in British Council Bangladesh, provided the in-house expertise.
The NSDC shared their plans and roadmap on developing an industry-responsive skills approach. The participants addressed issues such as the mission and governance of ISCs, labour market information, and sector research. They also discussed the skills assessment system, including approach to and delivery of assessment and the training of assessors.
We are now exploring how we can develop a longer term relationship with the NSDC to support them in achieving their objectives by sharing UK approaches, experience, and good practice.
H.E Robert W Gibson CMG – British High Commissioner to Bangladesh:
"The potential of this part of the world is amazing. In Bangladesh the people are its assets. That’s why there is no substitute for education and skills.
Skills need to be led by the employer and enabled by government. With that collaboration and responsibility, economic and technological growth follows, productivity rises, and the skills workforce deficit reduces. You have started the journey by finding out more of what can be achieved with collaboration and the emphasis on delivering skills."
Mr Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Honourable State Minister:
"We need to work with our industries to understand their medium and long term strategies for growth. We need to understand what their research tells us about how the industries are changing and what new knowledge and skills they will require in the workplace to achieve this growth. Our employers and Industry Skills Councils will play a critical role in defining what occupational competences are required. Working together with BTEB and education providers, this will then allow our young people to get access to the training that will allow them to occupy their rightful place in the workforce and to both contribute to Bangladesh’s future prosperity and achieve their own aspirations. I wish all partners the best in their endeavours to develop and sustain the roadmap for skills development leading to economic growth and prosperity."