With around 82% of the total export value, the RMG sector has continued to be the major driving force behind Bangladesh’s economic success story. There are still major areas of improvement on several fronts. Bangladesh still lags considerably in productivity, compared to the other RMG exporting countries. The major reasons behind productivity issues are the lack of skills among the production workers and limited adoption of modern industrial engineering principles, particularly in relation to automation and the green transition. The project aims to support RMG factories and implement sustainable skills training system the project aligns its objectives with Sweden’s aim of creating greater opportunities for productive employment with decent working conditions for RMG workers.
The primary challenges the PROGRESS project will address are the limited opportunities for workers, mostly women, to be employed in productive and well-paid jobs that are also secured and decent in nature. While limited opportunities for upskilling and reskilling prevents both existing workers and new labour market entrants from being either promoted or employed in secured and decent jobs, women workers suffer from this the most and are likely to do more so in future unless the underlying problems are addressed.
The underlying problems include lack of sustainable industry-driven technical skills development initiatives in the RMG sector resulting in lack of skilled labour force (particularly women). All these underlying and related challenges can be turned into opportunities by the factories, for themselves and for the workers (particularly women), with appropriate and timely interventions.
From the service market perspective, lack of local technical service providers related to skills development, productivity improvement, and ESG compliance of RMG factories is a problem that needs to be addressed sustainably as well.
To tackle these needs, the PROGRESS project will support the factories to improve the technical skills of factory workers and overall productivity. Additionally, by supporting the factories improve their environmental and social compliance, PROGRESS will enable the factories to become more attractive to the large global buyers for large consistent orders. Also, the project will support the factories to run in-house training on technical skills of factory workers to upgrade their skills.
* Tier-2 factories are located outside the Export Processing Zones. They are both large and medium in size; mostly owned by domestic entrepreneurs but have direct long-term business relations with the international buyers. Tier-3 factories comprise of medium and small-scale factories that have no direct links with international buyers or no capability to open a letter of credit. These factories often operate in rented buildings and usually rely on subcontracted orders from the Tier-2 factories. Most of these factories have challenges in compliance with social and environmental standards.
All these underlying and related challenges can be turned into opportunities by the factories, for themselves and for the workers (particularly women), with appropriate and timely interventions including setting up inhouse industry-based training (IBT) models.