A new EUR20m (US$21.3m) skills development programme was launched in Bangladesh this week to help provide the skilled labour force needed to support the country's economic growth.

Backed by the European Union (EU) – which is providing EUR19.5m of the funding – the Skills 21 project will be implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

It is intended to build on earlier EU/ILO initiatives and continue to modernise the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in Bangladesh.

"A skilled and productive workforce will make a major contribution to our goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021," said the Honourable Minister of Education, Nurul Islam Nahid, MP.

"The launch of the Skills 21 project will provide further assistance to our national efforts to create an effective, demand driven skills system that will meet the needs and aspirations of our people, especially the 2m who enter the workforce every year."

While the earlier TVET reform project helped Bangladesh define a National Skills Development policy, the new Skills 21 programme will take this to the next level by developing a National Qualifications Framework.

It is also expected to be instrumental in creating more skilled trainers and more diversified job opportunities for young Bangladeshis. 

Set to run from January 2017 to December 2020, Skills 21 will work with the Government to improve the governance aspects within the skills development sector, and directly with TVET institutions to introduce the entire reform package of new quality assured programmes, trained instructors and management as well as services for career guidance and job placement.

The project also aims to support partnerships between private sector and relevant training providers to develop and implement effective professional education and training programmes.