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February 6, 2020

SHOUHARDO III bridging the gap for youth employment

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Skills development for employability is one of the most potential issues for Bangladesh due to majority of the total population belonging in the working age. In 1989, people aged 15–64 made up only 54% of Bangladesh’s population. By 2016, this share was estimated to be 66% and was forecasted to continue to rise to 69% in 2022 through 2044 (United Nations 2015). Adequate education and training, alongside market linkage can ensure the untapped potentials to be fully realized for the overall betterment of the economy. In line with this, CARE’s SHOUHARDO III, a Development Food Security Activity (DFSA) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been mobilizing the youth in the char and haor regions of northern Bangladesh since 2015. In total, the program aims to reach 10,000 youth for employability skills training and 8,000 of them for employment. SHOUHARDO III is achieving these by (1) apprenticeship where participants get first-hand experience as they work with entrepreneurs/businessmen in the nearby upazila or union based on their area of interest; (2) Upazila-level training where the program hires in a local resource person who’s an expert on a specific trade; and (3) institutional training where youth gathered in a government’s facility, mainly the Technical Training Center where they access the necessary facilities to harness their skills. The program also provides foundational life or soft skills training on decision-making, planning, communication, negotiation, financial literacy, and business management. Until December 2019, the program trained 8,173 youths (4,090 females and 4,083 male) of which 3,332 (1,618 male and 1,714 female) are now employed either in wage or self-employment. However, with SHOUHARDO III anchored to interventions that would leave lasting impact, skills development training alone cannot make a sustainable change in the lives of the trained youth. In order to achieve success, these youths need to find decent jobs. To bridge this gap, SHOUHARDO organized Job Fairs in Gaibandha, on 23rd January and Kurigram on 29th January entitled “Linking Youth to Potential Employers”. About 1,100 youth participants attended these back-to-back events including from the neighboring districts. Their resumes were provided to renowned companies such as PRAN RFL, Standard Group, Walton, BDjobs, Dutch Bangla Bank, Galaxy Apparel, Naheed Cotton Mills, Kurigram District Mini Bus Shramik Union, and Karupannya. In addition to these private companies who were keenly supportive of the program, the Government of Bangladesh was fully engaged too where the events were held in the Technical Training Center grounds. Mr. Md. Abdul Motin, District Commissioner, Gaibandha shared, “All the youths should be self-motivated to bring positive change in their lives. I would like to request all the corporate bodies, NGOs and INGOs to bring their extending hand to help these youths get employed. I assure 100% support from the district level administration if required. In case of providing a driving license to the skilled youths, my door is always open to provide support.” The participating youths expressed they were truly inspired by attending the fair and get the chance to interact directly with potential employers. Mr. Md. Ashraful Islam, General Manager, Standard Group shared that “There is an increasing demand for technical skills in our company. We seek a great number of employees in the driving and garments sector each year. If organizations can acquire sound skills set in these particular trades, we are ready to recruit you.” SHOUHARDO III has since provided trainings on non-traditional skills in consultation with private companies and the public sector that align with the job market. Some of these include short courses on hotel and restaurant management, pipe fitting, industrial machine operation and water quality testing (in coordination with the government’s Department of Public Health Engineering). According to an internal research conducted by the program, the participants are employed for an average of one year earning approximately 4,000 BDT (47 USD) per month. Md. Faruk Islam from Sundorganj, Gaibandha, is one of the recipients of driving training. According to him, “There are a number of unemployed youths like me who cannot receive training in the first place due to locations of training facilities. SHOUHARDO arranging the trainings at the upazila level was convenient for me and helped me finish the driving course on time. Hopefully by attending this fair we will be hired for our first job experience and apply what we learned from the training.” SHOUHARDO will monitor the outcome of the applications since nearly all the 1,100 participants submitted their resumes to the different companies.