Increased coordination, key to boosting capacity building in Bangladesh

On 12 October 2015, The Foreign Trade Association (FTA) held a stakeholder roundtable discussion in Dhaka (Bangladesh) under the title ‘Capacity Building – Blessing or Curse for the Bangladesh RMG and Leather Industry?’ to analyse the status of capacity building activities in the country and discuss measures to improve its impact on these two key sectors for the country’s economy.

The event was attended by over 20 representatives from the local government, international organisations, NGOs and European and Bangladeshi business sector. Including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Save the Children, Unicef and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) among other participants, the meeting set the scene by discussing the report ‘Enhancing Trade through Capacity building – Bangladesh’s RMG and Leather industry’, by the CSR Center.

Participants agreed that capacity building is vital for the country’s RMG and leather sectors, as it is an investment for entrepreneurs on skilled workforce and supports the new generation to be well prepared to reach more productive roles. In this sense, attendees highlighted the role of the Center of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI), a project designed by the ILO to improve the sector’s productivity through skills development.

However, it was stressed that more coordination among all initiatives providing these services is needed in order to avoid duplication and that the content should not only cover technical knowledge, but also educate workers about basic rights, notably freedom of association as enabler of other labour rights. Specific remarks were made with regards to the leather sector, an area which requires more partnerships and awareness programs regarding environmental compliance.

As part of the services provided by FTA’s Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), the initiative offers capacity building workshops for participating companies and their producers in sourcing countries. The lessons learned through this discussion will help BSCI to further improve its training material in Bangladesh. In 2015, BSCI has trained over 400 people on various social compliance matters in the country and in 2016 the initiative will continue this trend and look into ways to increase synergies with other organisations alike.

The event was also an opportunity to present FTA’s latest publication, FTA Focus: Is Bangladesh a Success Case?’ , which highlights the extraordinary social and economic development experienced by Bangladesh in recent years and the challenges that the country needs to address to work toward a bright future.

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