Govt to take up $1.6b training, job scheme

April 29, 2014

The government is planning to invest US$ 1.6 billion to train and employ 1.5 million workers to meet the shortage of skilled labour force in the country’s burgeoning manufacturing sector, officials said. The programme is likely to start from the next fiscal year and will continue for 10 years. Asian Development Bank and Switzerland would provide 85 per cent and the government 15 per cent of the programme cost.
Each year, 150,000 workers are expected to receive training under the ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.
The trained workers will receive jobs in the country’s manufacturing sectors as per mutual understanding between the government and the manufacturers, said the officials.
The new programme, which is likely to be approved by the government on Tuesday, will be the 3rd training and employment generation programme taken up by the Awami League-led government.
National Service Programme and ‘One House, One Farm’ being run by the government for creation of jobs was severely criticized.
Transparency International Bangladesh in a report said the NSP was marred by rampant corruption and irregularities. The government spent more than Tk 816 crore for piloting the project in three districts during 2009 and 2013 to give jobs to 72,000 trained people.
The programme is still on, said NSP project director Ashit Kumar Shutradhar. He said there has been allocation of Tk 215 crore for NSP in the outgoing fiscal year.
Secretary of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry Khandaker Showkat Hossain said the new training programme is also targeting workers seeking jobs outside the country.
He said earnings from the expatriate labour force would grow further if Bangladesh could send semi-skilled and skilled workers instead of unskilled labourers to the oil-rich Arab countries.
The payment for skilled labour in the Middle East is at least five times higher.
The inflow of remittance contributes heavily to the country’s balance of payment. The government is worried as the inflow of remittance decreased to US$ 10.47 billion in nine months of the current financial year 2013-14 against US$ 11.12 billion in the same period of FY 2012-13.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association said the readymade garment sector that employs around 4 million workers is facing shortage of 25 per cent skilled workers.
Lack of skilled manpower has already been identified as a major problem for the sector that shares nearly 5 per cent of the global US$ 450 billion apparel trade after shipping out US$ 21.51 billion worth of products in 2012-13 fiscal year.
Dearth of skilled manpower is also hindering progress of other manufacturing sectors like information technology, leather, light engineering and electronics.
It is reported that more than 100,000 foreigners out of 350,000 are now working in Bangladesh illegally.
The illegal foreigners were working in RMG and IT sectors and most of them were from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, China and Hong Kong, said home ministry officials.
Former BGMEA president Salam Murshedi said many factories refuse orders because of shortage of skilled workers.
Present BMGEA president Atiqul Islam said level of skill of workers in the RMG workers was very low. Even the RMG workers in Vietnam are ahead of us, he said.

-With New Age input

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