for Decent Employment

Leveraging the “demographic dividend” by empowering youth through meaningful skills most demanded by the market.


Leveraging the “demographic dividend” by empowering youth through meaningful skills most demanded by the market.

Success Story : A Way Out of Poverty

Ajmot Ali, an energetic young from Mymensingh, completed his Master degree from Ananda Mohon College in Mymensingh. Like many other youths in his area, he made a lot of effort to get a job but failed to do so. Since then, he was looking for other opportunities to become self-dependent because; as a graduate, he did not want to be a burden for his family.

Skills apprenticeship




Apprentice able Trades


Upazilas Apprentice able Trades


Formal and Informal Industries / Workplaces

Developing an Effective Workforce for Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a total population of 159 million (BBS, 2015) and labor force of 79 million (World Bank, 2014). With a projected labor force growth rate of 2.2% over the next 10 years, 2 million youth joining the workforce every year. Among them 0.6 million are from mainstream education and 1.1 million are trained from government/ private skills development agencies. The rest of the forces fall within the NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) classification. Thus, there is a significant gap between the demand for skilled workers by the local industries and international job markets and the supply ensured by education and training centres. One plausible reason for this is the communication and coordination gap between employers and skills development agencies. Apprenticeship can be a practical solution to this problem. Apprenticeship is a significant endeavor to increase remittance per capita and ensure decent work for everyone through appropriate planning and coordination. Only with a concerted effort it will be possible to stand up against unemployment and underemployment, and make meaningful contributions to attain SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 8 (Decent Jobs and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and eventually achieve middle income status in the world.

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As of May 2018, under its apprenticeship programme covering over 450+ formal industries, a2i has enrolled over 25,000+ apprentices in important sectors like Agro-food, Furniture, Tourism & Hospitality, Construction, Leather & Footwear, etc. Important trades include wood machine operation, lacquer polishing, carpentry, food & beverage services, chef, baking, food processing, housekeeping, plumbing, tiles fitting, footwear production, etc. This number is expected to reach over 40,000 by the end of 2019. In informal sectors, through partnerships with 4,200+ informal workplaces, over 19,000 apprentices in 133 upazillas have received training and have landed in jobs. Important trades include electrical house wiring, wielding, glass & mirror fitting, mobile servicing, motorcycle mending, tailoring & dress making, etc. Recently, a2i has also partnered with the Department of Social Services (DSS) within the government to implement apprenticeship program in additional 73 upazillas touching more than 7,000 apprentices. After completing 6 months of apprenticeship programme, the trained apprentices gets a certificate of NTVQF (National Training and Vocational Qualifications Framework) after assessment by Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) whereas Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) issues the registration. With these certificates, apprentices are able to manage decent employment both in domestic and international job markets. Besides, to manage, monitor and mentor Apprenticeship Programme all over the country a2i has developed a National Apprenticeship Management System ( system is already working as a one-stop hub to serve the stakeholders (youths, industries, BMET, BTEB and DIFE) of the apprenticeship programme.

As a continuation of this approach, a2i has organized a National Apprenticeship Conference 2018 titled “Innovations in Apprenticeship: A Skilled Workforce for the Future” at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh dated 21-22 September 2018. This is the first ever national conference on Apprenticeship in Bangladesh where 174 representatives of government ministries/departments, development partners, industries and skills development agencies came under one platform to identify specific roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders and ensure industry ownership in Apprenticeship programme.

a2i, as the innovation intermediary of the government in collaboration with UK Cabinet Office based organization Behavioral Insight Team (BIT), is also working with a whole-of-government approach applying behavior change methodologies and leveraging the rapid expansion of Apprenticeship programme countrywide to ensure demand driven skills in Bangladesh. Globally a2i is playing an active role to develop international collaboration on apprenticeship. With the advocacy of a2i, Bangladesh has become a part of Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) by launching GAN Bangladesh on 21st September, 2018, which is the 12th country to be included in the network. GAN works to promote apprenticeship and create work-readiness programmes for youth and foster skills for business development. a2i is also leading the Alliance for Asia Apprenticeship (AAA) to share knowledge, experience and expertise in apprenticeship with Asian countries.


Providing income generating skills for the higher secondary poor students alongside of stipend.

In Bangladesh, the dropout rate in higher secondary education is more than 30 percent, which is significantly higher than the dropout rate in the secondary education level. Female dropout is comparatively higher than male counterparts. The main reason for this dropout is poverty and poverty related factors. Many practical remedial measures have been taken to attract all the students, including female ones to continue their education and be the part of skilled manpower. To keep this objective or goal alive and in action, Higher Secondary Stipend Project (HSSP) under Ministry of Education stranded functioning, providing a stipend at the higher secondary and higher education level. Remedial measures have been taken so that the deprived students do not dropout of higher secondary education due to financial insolvency. Under this project, the government gives stipend and other financial facilities to 40% of female students and 10% of male students admitted in HSC level. So that the poor students have got the opportunity to continue their education.

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the Study shows that many higher secondary students drop out before and after completing HSC and they become unemployed due to lack of vocational skills and entrepreneurship training. According to the policy makers and experts, besides taking part in general education, a student can take a market oriented short term vocational and technical training with soft and hard skills inbuilt in the training programme. This programme will decrease the dropout rate since students can earn in his student life through self-employment or part time job after completion of the training. Even in the long run the stipend can be provided based on successful completion of vocational training.

The Aspire to Innovation (a2i) Programme of Prime Minister’s Office in collaboration with higher Secondary Stipend Project (HSSP) of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) has taken an initiative to integrate skills development programme with the stipend of higher secondary students as the pilot. The objectives of this initiative are:

1. To provide entrepreneurial skills development for the higher secondary students alongside stipend;
2. To create earning scopes for the higher secondary students alongside their education;
3. To increase the enrollment of female students in higher secondary education;
4. To reduce drop out in higher secondary education;

The piloting of the programme has been completed in 10 Upazillas of the country. The Upazillas are Khaliajuri of Netrokona, Ishwardi of Pabna, Kamarkhand of Sirajganj, Tetulia of Panchagarh, Sadar of Lalmonirhat, Swarupkathi of Pirojpur, Kalapara of Patuakhali, Morelganj of Bagerhat and Batiaghata of Khulna District. A total number of 200 disadvantageous pro-poor students are getting self-employment and income generating skills. The significant trades are: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Electronics, Embroidery and Nokshi Kantha, Beautification, Motor Mechanic, Graphics Design and Multimedia, Tour Guide, Photography, Sweet Making, Mobile Servicing, Block Boutique and Screen Printing etc. After successful completion of the training, students are earning money by starting their own business or doing part time job alongside of their education and contributing to their family. Since the pilot programme was a successful one, now the Government is planning to expand the programme in all Upazillas of the country.


Fulfilling the demands of the largest export earner of the country through training local youths to craft the future of the industry,

One of the greatest steps towards realizing vision 2021 is a2i’s skills development programme for youth and ensuring decent jobs for them. One of the initiatives is based on Bangladesh’s thriving and vibrant Readymade Garments (RMG) sector. a2i, with the support of Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) of the Finance Division and Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), has started two two-month skills development programme. Each has 20 people per batch. This training is for creating mid-level managers. The other one is on operating a knitting or woven machine. SEIP is providing technical support for them.

For the first programme, anyone, with a bachelor’s certificate, between 20-35 years, is eligible for this training. The participants should also possess good communication & leadership skills. For the other one, participants need to be between 17 and 35 years and must have had schooling up to 8th grade. This particular project is designed for those on the brink of poverty.

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Before delving into why we need such programmes a glimpse of Bangladesh is necessary where those below 30 years make up 60% of the total labor force. Most of these youth are in a perpetual crunch for money. It is either that they do not have enough to get through school or they are not earning enough to get by with their family because they don’t have the necessary skills. Given the rising population, jobs are also becoming increasingly scarce and all the more so for those without a good skill set.

These projects have been initiated keeping that in mind. The target group of the projects includes people from ethnic minorities of the plains. In each batch, 60% participants come from those minorities. After just two months of training, people find jobs as guaranteed by the BGMEA. The figures are great too as the starting salary is Tk 25,000 in the first case and in the second scenario, minimum salary is Tk 8,000 per month. So, they will gain much after only two months of training.

One batch — 20 participants — has successfully completed the training and joined decent jobs in garment factories. As for the second case a2i’s result has been positive as well, as there has been four batches that completed the training and a five is underway with 30 participants in each. 120 people have secured a paying job.

To sum it up, people are now able to get a job and pay their bills. Not only do the new job holders benefit from this, but so do the employers who get properly trained employees.

Skills Development for Qawmi Madrasha Youths

Mainstreaming Qawmi Madrasha youths in the job market

Success Story : A better life to cherish beyond

Mr. Rofiqul Islam, from a remote village of Mirzaganj sub-district of Patuakhali district completed his Kafia (graduation degree) degree living at the boarding of the Mirpur Darul Ulum Qawmi Madrasha as in a family of seven it was hard for his family to bear his educational cost. He passed his hardest day to obtain this degree but after completing he found there are very limited job opportunities.
This made him realized that he needs to do something else to be economically solvent. In 2016, through Qawmi Madrasha Education Board ‘Iqra Bangladesh’ he got to know about the a2i programme which is going to provide technical and vocational training for Qawmi Mardasah students. He felt like he found the light of hope and immediately applied for the training. After completing training on driving from the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and successfully passing his driving exam from Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) now he is earning monthly 20,000 taka working as an Uber driver which contributed to the betterment of his family.
Mr. Rofiqul Islam said, “I believes all Qawmi Mardasah students’ needs to take part in this initiative of a2i and utilize their valuable time. Such trainings will help to develop their technical skills and increase their earnings. Inclusion of Qawmi youths in to the main workforce will also make a remarkable contribute into the GDP growth of the nation.”

Skills Development for Qawmi Madrasha Youths




Qwami Students



Reconstructing the Mindset of Qawmi Madrasha

In Bangladesh, a total number of 4 million students are studying in 13,902 Qawmi Madrashas across the country. Based on studies, among these students 75% are male and 25% are female. The major limitation of Madrasha education is putting emphasize on religion education only without promoting other skills that are compatible with modern job market demand today. In most circumstances, motivation for receiving income generating skills is absent and the Qawmi Madrasha students are not convinced that receiving technical and vocational education is important. Due to the absence of updated and mainstream knowledge, the graduates produced by Madrashas are unable to improve their career prosperity. Their job opportunity is restricted to mosques and madrashas only where the salary ranges between 2000 and 10000 which is very low for any graduate. As a result, after graduating Qawmi Madrasha students face a poor living standard.

To engage Qawmi Madrasha students with the mainstream, the Government has provided many vocational and technical programs as well as some job opportunities. But most of the students did not get a chance to receive income generating skills. So, a2i and the Qawmi Madrasha Education Board ‘Iqra Bangladesh’ has jointly taken a revolutionary intervention to provide technical and vocational training for Qawmi Madrasha students to turn around their lives through skills development and job placement. Under the skills development programme they are receiving at least one skill that is in great demand in local and foreign markets alongside their traditional curriculum. Most of the time Qawmi Madrasha students receive training in formal and informal trades so far, 25,000+ youths have got the training. This programme is supported by different training providers such as-Department of Social Services, Department of Youth Development (DYD), Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), Department of Women Affairs (DWA) and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC).

Currently, through the countrywide training programme, Qawmi students have received skills on different trades such as- Electrical House Wiring, Aminship (land survey), Mobile Servicing, Graphic Designing, Tailoring, Block-boutique, Nokshikatha, Agriculture, Livestock, Pisciculture, Horticulture, Driving and Afforestation. Through this training the students has develop their skills to generate more income and overcome their mental and financial constraints as well as ultimately benefit the country.