SGRA Project in Bangladesh (April-May)

The SGRA (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) has entered its 3rd year since inauguration. The project is subsidised by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

The aim of the project is to make sure that the informal workers can support themselves and create mutual aid organisations by utilising the international labour-management network and other organizations such as ILO in order to support informal sector workers, low-income earners, women and workers who are not covered by social security systems by way of vocational training and educational seminars. The JILAF implements the project in Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, due to the fact that there are many informal-sector workers with no basic occupational skills and enough education opportunity, the project focuses on vocational training. In addition, life support seminars (LSS) are organized in the three regions; Bogra, Khulna, and Chittagong, to provide information on the social security system, household budget improvement, and mutual-aid schemes.

The SGRA project in Bangladesh is being implemented by Roundtable (RT) meeting members consisting of representatives of the Bangladesh Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Bangladesh Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-BC), and the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF), as well as the ILO and the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), a training and research organization. RT is a policymaking body and under its policy and decisions, the Working Group (WG) and Regional Working Groups (RWGs), which was newly established this year, operate various activities.

On the occasion of the project’s start in this fiscal year, JILAF visited Dhaka on April 4–11 to attend a WG meeting and to discuss and confirm such matters as a preliminary survey for bridging to existing vocational training programs offered by the government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which is a pillar of the project for this fiscal year.

Furthermore, JILAF visited Dhaka again on May 25–26 to attend the first RT meeting, which is the project’s policymaking body in Bangladesh, and the second meeting of the WG, which implements the project on the basis of the RT’s decisions. These meetings were attended by 16 labour-related representatives from JILAF, the ITUC-BC, the Bangladesh Ministry of Labour and Employment, and other organizations. The purpose of the May meetings was to discuss and confirm a report of needs assessment of vocational training. The assessment was conducted in April 2013.
In the second WG meeting, the participants, among other things, discussed whether the results of the survey of vocational training needs were being properly reflected in the implementation of training programs. In the initial plan, vocational training focused mainly on sewing and handicrafts for women and mobile phone and computer repairs for men. In the WG meeting, however, participants gave such opinions and comments as (1) sewing and handicrafts are different occupations, so separate vocational training programs are necessary; (2) skills that make it easier to find jobs include sewing, handicrafts, computer operation (basic), driving, welding, and electric wiring; and (3) it would be better to customize three or four vocational training programs in each of the three regions of Bogra, Khulna, and Chittagong in accordance with the local needs there.

In the first RT meeting, on the basis of the discussions and confirmations in the second WG meeting, JILAF proposed an annual activity plan for fiscal 2013, and a consensus was reach after discussions. Among other things, it was confirmed that (1) 180 persons will participate in vocational training (90 participants in LSS seminars in fiscal 2012 and 90 new LSS participants in fiscal 2013, to be rigorously selected by the WG); (2) the vocational training will cover sewing, handicrafts, computer operation (basic), driving, welding, and electric wiring (to be customized as three to four vocational training programs in each region); (3) fiscal 2012 vocational training graduates in principle will receive advanced courses; (4) the LSS seminar will be held once in each of the three regions of Bogra, Khulna, and Chittagong, with 30 participants attending each seminar; (5) regional working groups will be set up in each region for the vocational training, the ITUC-BC will have responsibility for monitoring, the BEF will provide employment support after training, and the Bangladesh Ministry of Labour and Employment will provide employment support and additional vocational training opportunities; and (6) a cooperative setup will be built with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), which has jurisdiction over government-run vocational training facilities in the three regions.

Schedule

DateContents
04/05Fri1st WG meeting; meeting with the ITUC-BC
04/06SatMeeting with the BILS
04/07SunMeeting with the BEF

Schedule

DateContents
05/25Sat2nd WG meeting
05/26Sun1st RT meeting

Photos of Participants

Participants listen to an explanation of vocational training

Training in welding at a vocational training facility in Khulna

Classroom study at a vocational training facility in Khulna