Some Thoughts for New Approaches in Developing Skills for Employment
Dr. Md. Nurul Islam

Two million youths are entering into the labour force every year in Bangladesh. To utilise the huge population as human resources to contribute to the economic development, promotion of skills training system is a fundamental and crucial issue now. With a view to achieving specific objectives, National Skills Development Policy was adopted in 2012 in Bangladesh. These are mainly to i) Improve the quality and relevance of skills development in Bangladesh, ii) Establish more flexible and responsive delivery mechanisms that better service the needs of labour markets, individuals and the community at large, iii) Improve access to skills development for various groups of citizens including women and people with disabilities, encourage participation in skills development by industry, organisations, employers and workers and improve skills acquisition in communities and iv) Enable more effective planning, coordination and monitoring of skill development activities by different ministries, development partners, industry, and public and private providers.

The major accomplishment in the skills development sector after adopting the NSDP is that it has promoted the enrolment in TVET system in Bangladesh. The enrolment in TVET was about 1% in 2008 and it achieved 15% in 2019. But for elevation to the Middle Income Country (MIC) requires the TVET enrolment of 50+%.

TVET has encouraged towards Demand-Driven, Flexible and Responsive Training Provision. As a result different training institutions and projects emphasize on ensuring the employment of the passed out trainees in TVET. This has prepared the Nationally Recognised Qualifications on TVET titled “National Technical and Vocational Qualifications Framework (NTVQF)”. Now it has become the basis of providing training standard to commensurate it with the demand of the employment market.

The provision of Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBT&A) has been created which is already started implementation in different public and private training organizations. On the basis of the CBT system more than 1700 competency standards and assessment tools have been prepared. It has established a standard structure of skills training and assessment. Competent and Certified Instructors, Trainers and Assessors from training providers and industry have been registered through a systematic process of assessment under CBT&A.

To ensure the quality of the TVET programs and training providers, National Skills Quality Assurance System (NSQAS) have been designed also. The training providers are gradually implementing the provisions of the NSQAS in their training institutions.

Most important achievement of TVET in the recent years is the tendency towards strengthened linkage with industry in Skills Development program. Presently the training providers are trying to maintain effective connection with industries and employers to promote job placement and also improvement in the curriculum. They are arranging to engage the members from industry in the institution management committee and recruit the job placement officers to facilitate employment of the graduates.

Another aspect is apprenticeships training, which has been encouraged. The total apprentices trained in the formal and informal sectors are 27,060 and 15,101 respectively and the number of Industry/Enterprises engaged is 386 and 6709. This figure from 1962 to 2010 was only a few hundreds only. Regarding promotion of Apprenticeships training system, more specific guidelines should be there to enhance the coverage and number of apprentices. There may be indication to prepare separate Apprenticeship policy and time bound strategy with action plan on this issue.

The project support towards development of Skill Training from Development Partners is remarkable. The projects operating in the skills development training are mostly aimed in improving the training facilities, upgrading the teachers, developing curricula and competency standards based upon the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework (NTVQF).

There had been extensive support to the skills development system in Bangladesh over the past decade. After adoption of the National Skills Development Policy in 2011, skills training are considered a national policy priority. Various development Partners like European Union (EU), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Global Affairs Canada (GAC, former CIDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), UK-Aid etc. extended the support towards the elevation of skill development training both in quality and quantity, but these assistances could not substantially promote the apprenticeship training which will need more emphasis in future. The major projects supported by development partners are as follows:

Names and status of projects development partner are: 1) SDP ADB and SDC Completed, 11) TVET Reform EU Completed, 111) STEP WB and Canada Completed, IV) B – SEP Canada Completed, V) SEIP ADB and SDC Running, VI) Skills 21 EU Running, VII) SEP-B (Suddakkha) Uk Aid Running, VIII) Skillful SDC Running, IX) Upgrading TTCs KOICA 3 TTCs completed and 3 TTCs running and X) Teacher Training Institute IDB Running.

To encourage the industries for getting closer to the TVET system, Industrial Skills Councils (ISC) in different sectors have been formed. Like other developed countries, this approach is very much effective in reducing the skill demand and supply. So far 13 ISCs have been formed among which 9 are active. These are i) Leather and Leather Goods, ii) Agro-Food, iii)  RMG, iv) Ship-Building, v) Construction, vi) Furniture, vii) Tourism & Hospitality, viii) Light Engineering and ix) Informal sector.

A concept titled as “Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)” has been introduced to get the proper certification of the workers who has gathered skills on working on practical works only. More than 10,000 workers have been certified under RPL program which enhances their wages and also better opportunity in the employability. RPL in the destination countries of the Bangladeshi migrant workers may be launched to enhance the wages and status of them with better employability.

Enhanced Social Status of TVET is essential to utilize the huge youth population in the economy. Government emphasizes on the ‘Financing mechanism of TVET’. To facilitate the TVET operation, government has formed the National Human Resources Development Fund and allocated Tk. 100.00 crore in the annual budget. Another endowment fund has been created and seed money of Tk. 140.00 crore has been provided to that fund.

Some issues are not achieved under the NSDP 2011 and also new approaches emerge towards development of sustainable Skills training system in Bangladesh.

Skill gap and skills mis-match are two major challenges of the present system of skill development. This is to be addressed properly in all phases of TVET delivery. In this regard Skills Quality Assurance System (SQAS) should prepare quality manual and detailed quality procedure for quality assurance mechanism. As the apex body for administering the skill training system, role of NSDA should take the driving seat to steer all the responsibilities towards maximum outcomes from the Skills Training System of Bangladesh ensuring the coordination among all the stakeholders of TVET.

Study and research on the future demand of skills and the supply status of trained graduates both in the local market and also overseas is essential to design the appropriate skill training system. This study should be conducted to assess the training needs on continuous basis. The detailed strategy for skill training for overseas employment should also be formed.

The provision is needed for integrated approach of the projects of the government and the development partners for extended support towards the elevation of skill development training both in quality and quantity and to substantially promote the skills training avoiding any duplication.

International certification of TVET of Bangladesh needs serious attention to promote the employability of the TVET graduates specifically in the overseas market to ensure enhanced wages and increased remittances. It may be done through the Mutual recognition of certification also with destination countries of migrant workers.

TVET in Bangladesh is mostly operated in the formal institutions. Promotion of Informal and Non-formal skills training should be incorporated to address the huge number of less educated young population. As the wage employment is limited and more than 2 million youth is entering in to the labour force every year, more emphasis on incorporating Self-employment, Entrepreneurship, Teen-preneurship and Techno-preneurship should be encouraged in the national skills system. Relevant courses should be launched to adopt these initiatives.

For ensuring the sustainable Skills training system in Bangladesh, following issues need special attention:

a) Developing Capacity of training providers, teachers and instructors engaged in TVET.

b) Developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system for TVET

c) Preserving accurate skills and labour market data for planning and monitoring

Innovation and Promotional efforts in TVET are the modern approaches in TVET which is basic criteria of TVET, particularly the emerging technology and trades in 4iR. Bangladesh TVET should adopt this without any delay to cope with the international trend of technical development.

Previously TVET system of Bangladesh was mostly concerned with the training delivery. Job placement was ignored and thought that it is not the responsibility of the training providers. Employment promotion of TVET graduates is the most important aspect in regard to ensure more participation in TVET and enhance social acceptability. Different approaches for ensuring job placement are the effective tools for sustainable TVET system.

To overcome the Challenges in TVET, appropriate approaches are to be undertaken which will address the recent issue of TVET in Post-COVID situation and also meet SDG targets. A Sound and realistic action plan for implementation of the policy may be designed in this regard.

 

[Dr. Md. Nurul Islam is the TVET Specialist, SEIP, Finance Division]

 

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