Sudokkho did not set out to explicitly reach the extreme poor but it did focus on occupations where industry reported unmet demand for skills, and which were accessible to those who had not completed lower secondary education. 93% of graduates were classified as ‘extremely poor’ and 32% were from ‘disadvantaged groups’.
Throughout implementation, Sudokkho was under pressure from the PTPs and the Department of Technical Education (DTE) to increase the subsidies paid to the PTPs and for the trainees. While Sudokkho maintained its private sector approach and continued limiting the amount of subsidies provided, this resulted in difficulties attracting PTPs to its programmes.
The business case for Sudokkho proposed using payment for results (P4R) to incentivise the PTPs to actively assist the graduates finding employment or self-employment. In the Bangladesh training market, which has been flooded with donor-driven, subsidised skills development programmes, it was very difficult to implement the P4R system due to the high risk of fraud. While PTPs showed interest in job placements where they benefitted financially, many did not have the required capacity or systems in place to secure genuine job opportunities for their graduates. Instead, there was temptation to produce fake certificates in order to secure high results payment. In order to reduce the risk of fraud, Sudokkho had to put in place resource-intensive monitoring systems and administration and dropped the idea of financially incentivising PTPs for job placement services.
Establishing effective linkages and partnerships between PTPs and RMG factories has proven more difficult than anticipated, mainly due to lack of knowledge on both sides of each other’s business model and a reluctance on the part of the factories to enter into binding agreements. While there are problems with the ability of the PTPs to deliver the quality of graduates required, due to a number of shortcomings in equipment, facilities and trainer capacity, one of the key limiting factors proved to be the misalignment of graduation and recruitment periods for the factories. Sudokkho learned that it could improve the employment ratio for the PTP graduates if the graduation would be aligned with the narrow time gap for recruitment by the factories. This will require more flexibility in the course planning by the PTPs.
Sudokkho was successful in convincing training providers of the benefits of obtaining formal registration as RTOs. It is possible for donor programmes to support GoB and BTEB to market the revised quality assurance system and articulate the benefits of the system to the PTPs.
By working with and building the capacity of the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), the products delivered by Sudokkho have the potential to reach a much wider audience than the programme could reach on their own. As the Occupational standards, curriculum and training materials became national standards they are now available to all private and public training institutions in Bangladesh.
An independent impact review undertaken by John Winter found the following key verifiable messages to employers. The Sudokkho IBT model is:
• Shorter than other routes to upskilling workers (15 days)
• Cheaper per trainee than current systems (20-60% savings on unit cost per trainee)
• Able to produce reliable work-ready operations (performance on transfer > 50%)
• Well placed to support factories to resolved labour supply problems
Sudokkho demonstrated that industry-led, workplace-based training could offer business benefits to employers and allows them to flexibly meet the requirements of their production floor. Factories were often already investing in training, but not very cost-effectively. Aspects of this model might be replicable in other formal manufacturing sectors and economic zones seeking investment and with job creation objectives.
Factories payroll and grading systems do not always automatically provide for a pay increase on graduation from the training centre. This happens routinely for new entrants, but for existing workers who improve their skills, pay increases often come later at their annual grade and salary review. A few factories were reluctant to increase salaries after training. Donor programmes that support in-factory training should require that the factory commits to automatically increasing the pay of workers once they have been assessed as having reached a higher skills level. Factories have an incentive to adapt their human resource systems to reflect the evolving skills and productivity of their workforce, to help them retain skilled staff.
Despite strong government support for the establishment of ISCs, the industries have been very slow to react and support the ISCs. To ensure ownership of the ISCs by the parent industries the main strategy is that the various industry associations should own and fund the ISCs. However, despite serious and sustained efforts by Sudokkho to involve the associations and to facilitate establishment of ownership and funding of the ISC by the associations, progress is slow.
Even in those countries in which Governments have set-up Industry Skills Councils and have given them initial funding, a major challenge has been to make the Councils financially viable and sustainable. Sudokkho’s experience in Bangladesh showed that whilst other ISCs saw the CISC as a role model, they would require substantial technical and financial support to copy this model.