Garment manufaturing plant, Dhaka Export Processing Zone (EPZ). (Photo: Arne Hoel)

Let’s Work Starts Work in Bangladesh

The Let’s Work Bangladesh Team launched its Bangladesh Work Program in March, 2016. As part of its program, Let’s Work will perform a Jobs Diagnostic with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) that assesses existing data to identify knowledge gaps. Let’s Work will also build a jobs strategy with the International Labor Organization (ILO) that aims to support the government’s Five-Year Plan to create more, better, and inclusive jobs through 2021, and develop three cross-sectoral pilots. The information gained from the Jobs Diagnostic will help shape the three pilots and the jobs strategy.

In the past decade, the Bangladesh economy has grown at nearly 6 percent per year, and Bangladesh aspires to be a middle-income country by 2021. However, this will require increasing GDP growth to 7.5 to 8 percent per year based on accelerated export and remittance growth, and both public and private investment will need to increase as well. Growth will also need to be more inclusive through creation of productive employment opportunities in the domestic economy.

Using extensive census and survey data, the Jobs Diagnostic will help identify the jobs opportunities and challenges from both the supply and demand sides. The joint Let’s Work and BBS effort will take into account the specific circumstances of Bangladesh to discover where jobs-related interventions will be most effective. The analysis will also help identify how policies might need to shift to increase jobs, raise earnings, and improve access to jobs for disadvantaged groups.

During the launch, development partners discussed how best to coordinate efforts to address Bangladesh’s jobs challenges. A key outcome was the start of a collaboration between Let’s Work and ILO to develop the Bangladesh jobs strategy. The strategy aims to support the government’s Five-Year Plan and will focus on employers. Recognizing that development is a long-term process, the Five-Year Plan is cast in the context of a long-term development vision defined by the government’s Vision 2021 and the Perspective Plan (2010-2021). The Vision 2021 and Sixth Five-Year Plan have set solid development targets for Bangladesh. The development of the jobs strategy will involve other development partners and civil society organizations. A draft roadmap for developing the strategy is underway.

Let’s Work pilots will target sectors such as leather and leather footwear, light engineering, and ready-made garments. Bangladesh is one of seven Let’s Work pillar 1 country pilots. Pillar 1 aims is to address the jobs challenge by developing innovative and cross-sectoral private-sector led pilots that can be scaled up to the national level, if successful. The results from the three pilots will also feed into the joint Let’s Work and ILO jobs strategy. The team recently held workshops with private industry associations, the private sector, and government ministries to build programs and support activities for the three sector-based pilots, the design of which will begin soon.