An eight-year project has been hailed for helping to establish a stronger skills development system in Bangladesh, and paving the way for a number of new skills-related initiatives in the country.

The observations marked the end of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Project, which was supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and funded by the European Union (EU), and ran from 2007 to December 2015.

"During its lifespan the TVET reform project has helped address many of the structural weaknesses in the national skills system," explained Srinivas Reddy, ILO country director for Bangladesh.

"Fundamental to this has been the development of a new National Skills Development Policy which provides a firm foundation for the future development of skills in Bangladesh."

In addition to the development of the National Skills Development Policy, major achievements which the project contributed to include the adoption of a National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) by the government.

"The National Vocational Qualification Framework allows skills gained from all technical training centres to be equally recognised and will greatly aid local workplace mobility. International recognition of these qualifications will also help workers seeking employment opportunities overseas," Reddy said.

The project played a major role in helping bridge the mismatch between industry skills demand and the courses being taught in training institutions. A number of Industry Skills Councils have been created to provide the link between training and employment while public-private partnerships between training institutes and industry have also been successfully launched.

In addition, teaching skills of instructors have been improved with quality and competency standards also developed. The apprenticeship system has been reinvigorated and efforts made to ensure inclusion in the workforce, such as for disabled workers and women.

In addition, the Government has reactivated the National Skills Development Council chaired by the Prime Minister to act as a coordination mechanism between the various ministries involved in skills development.

"We are extremely satisfied with the outcome and achievements of the TVET programme," added EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon. "The National Skills Development Policy and Skills Council will both play a key role. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 young people including those with disabilities have been trained which is high on the agenda of the EU."

Work of the TVET Reform in Bangladesh Project is being built upon by skills-related initiatives funded by a variety of other donors. Amongst these is ILO's Canadian-funded Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project which aims to make skills in Bangladesh nationally recognised, accessible to all, higher quality and directly linked to jobs.