Almost 2 million workers join the labour force every year in Bangladesh settling mostly in the informal sector given their lack of relevant skills. However, the informal sector workers and employers, where about 80% of the jobs are created, lacks adherence to legal and regulatory frameworks, and is largely unaware of decent work practices. As a result, workers in informal sector enterprises are subject to hazardous working conditions and exploitation.
Under such circumstances, the B-SkillFUL project aims to facilitate training and job placement of young men and women in both formal and informal enterprises where decent work agenda is addressed. The project also covers the basics of entrepreneurship in training programmes and facilitates links with financial institutes for graduates who want to become self-employed.
Morsalin is an 18 years old boy who cannot hear or speak. He lives in Bogra, north of Bangladesh. His mother explains that she is burdened with 2 children with the same impairment – speech and hearing. He was enrolled in a local school and learned to read and write a bit. However, his mother said that teachers were struggling to teach him in class. Thus, after studying till class 5 he dropped out and used to remain depressed. Days went by when his mother tried to find a suitable school for him. But she did not have enough money to put him into the special needs school. It was also far from where she lived.
Morsalin enrolled in the training with a hope to get to do something with his life. When his neighbour came and told his mother that the B-SkillFUL training is facilitated through TMSS, where Differently Able People (DAPs) can also enrol, his mother was very pleased. She brought Morsalin to the training centre and during pre-counselling sessions it was decided that he can be eligible for Mobile Phone Servicing. Luckily the instructor knew how to speak in sign language and could communicate with Morsalin very well. According to Morsalin’s mother, the instructor was extremely helpful in motivating and teaching Morsalin how to use techniques of mobile phone servicing. Morsalin’s instructor mentioned how intuitive he is and how fast he was in learning.
The owner of the shop Milon Hossain was sensitised by the TSP staff to hire Morsalin as a worker. The owner also participated in the Labour Rights and Decent Work (LRDW) workshop to be sensitised in creating a better environment for his workers.
After working with him for a few months, the owner is convinced that Morsalin will be able to work for him. Currently Morsalin earns about BDT 5,000 per month and is a trusted employee. Morsalin has been working in this mobile phone servicing centre for almost 12 months now.
Morsalin’s mother knows how bright her son is and is confident that such ‘push’ will enable him to move forward in life. But she is also concerned about his future in this society. She says, ‘Most people are not friendly with him and more focus should be given to sensitise the community. Morsalin is a very smart boy, he was able to study in regular schools until class five but then he dropped out because of society’s outlook on him. With the right support, he will go a long way.’