The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), will open its Center of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI) Sunday. The center is aimed at improving the country’s ready-made garment sector by providing training to develop skilled and semi-skilled workers.
CEBAI plans to train 6,000 skilled workers over the next two years, the first phase of the project. The center will also explore policy recommendations, product diversification and wage mechanisms.
“In true sense, there was no research on the RMG sector and the centre of excellence will research on a large scale the apparel industry to identify challenges and ways to overcome,” BGMEA president Atiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune.
Retailer H&M and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) are providing $1.5 million in funding for the first three years of the project to be implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), according to the Dhaka Tribune. H&M will support infrastructure development and centre management, while Sida’s support will go toward training and institutional development.
Islam said skilled labor is required to move Bangladesh’s garment production to a higher level, and the center will provide for that required manpower.
Bangladesh is expecting to increase its RMG exports to $50 billion by 2021, and in order to meet that goal, the country will need 3.5 million skilled and semi-skilled workers in the next seven years. The country earned $24.49 billion from its exports in 2013.
Reaz Bin Mahmood, BGMEA vice-president, said, “Bangladesh’s RMG workers’ productivity is around 20% less than other competitors and we need to reach the peak through the COE [Center of Excellence] initiative,” according to the Dhaka Tribune. “The project will formulate curriculum, carry out research on what we want in future and work on heal and occupational safety.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the project during the opening of the two-day Dhaka Apparel Summit, which begins Sunday, Dec. 7.