Apparel skills development centre needs a boost: analysts
The Center of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI), an institute for skills development, should be nurtured further to help retain the country's position as one of the top garment exporters, analysts said yesterday.
They spoke at a workshop at the BGMEA Apparel Club in Dhaka where the contribution of the CEBAI towards enhancing skills in the garment industry was also recognised.
In November 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the centre—run by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)—to address the skills gap in the garment sector.
Up until November this year, the CEBAI was supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Sweden and international fashion retailer H&M.
Much has been accomplished, but the CEBAI is still in its infancy, Atiqul Islam, president of the centre, said at the programme. “We must continue to nurture it so that it is able to provide the support industry needs to move up the value chain and gain further share in the world market.”
The vision of the CEBAI is to establish a replicable model of industry-driven training and support services, the ILO said in a statement.
Its actions have benefitted workers and employers alike as it has helped create a firm foundation for future skills development in the sector, according to the statement.
“For the industry to fulfill its true potential we need to upgrade the skills of our workforce,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of BGMEA.
“There is also a strong need for research that will guide the development of the industry. Looking forward, the CEBAI should continue to play a key role to meet both these requirements.”
Achievements of the centre include the setting up of the CEBAI Training Centre in Ashulia where a variety of courses for basic sewing machine operators, supervisory and management skills are taught.
Training methods and curricula that meet the demands of industry have been introduced.
New competency standards and curricula developed as part of the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework offer basic operator skills in knitwear, denim, lingerie and woven products.
The recognition of prior learning—which provides an opportunity to workers to identify their skills gained through work or past experience, have it assessed and formally acknowledged—has been introduced, according to the statement.
The ILO said the industry needs are being met though piloting of enterprise-based training facilities in 10 leading garment groups where more than 4,100 workers have been trained.
Collaboration with the Muslim Aid, the UCEP and the Bangladesh-Korea Technical Training Centre have seen 480 disadvantaged people in Dhaka and Chittagong gain access to training and get jobs in the garment sector.
The initiative has also supported three leading garment companies -- Ananta, Bitopi and Shin Shin -- to sign an inclusive business policy to promote gender equality and create better access for persons with disabilities, a step which can be a model for other companies in the industry, the ILO said.
“Although prospects in this sector are bright, the Bangladesh garment industry has enormous scope to improve productivity through skills development,” said Srinivas Reddy, country director of the ILO for Bangladesh.
“I call on the industry to look at what the CEBAI has achieved and to build further on these efforts to achieve a more flexible, demand-driven and inclusive skills development system in Bangladesh.”
Md Mustafizur Rahman, chairman of the Bangladesh Technical Education Board; Charlotta Schlyter, ambassador of Sweden; Kiron Gokathoti, sustainability manager of H&M Bangladesh, and Aftab Uddin Ahmad, CEO of the CEBAI, were also present.