H&M is adding a new project to its ongoing initiative to better the lives of textile workers at its supplier factories.
The retailer is partnering with ILO and Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) to introduce a Centre of Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI) in Dhaka. On Dec. 7, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina officially opened the center during a ceremony held at the Dhaka Apparel Summit.
The three-year project, which is technically and financially supported by H&M and SIDA and is implemented by ILO, is a first of its kind in Bangladesh. It will help meet the need for a skilled labor force in the RMG sector by providing competency-based training in areas where demand from industry is greatest. In addition to training garment workers, the project will also train supervisors and managers on occupational safety and health, disability inclusion, workers’ rights and responsibilities. The center will also offer training and certification for instructors, industry trainers and assessors and briefings for managers and executives of enterprises.
Srinivas B. Reddy, ILO country director for Bangladesh, said, the facility will help create a better skilled, better paid workforce. Reddy add, “The approach aims to effectively meet employers’ needs for skilled workers while at the same time helping workers attain decent work.”
Through the project, H&M said it hopes to learn and better understand how certified training can increase wages establish a replicable model and if successful scale it up. Most of the center’s beneficiaries will be women and there is a five percent target to include people with disabilities, the company noted.
Jenny Fagerlin, sustainability manager for H&M in Bangladesh, said, “Supporting the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industries is a reflection of H&M’s long-term commitment to Bangladesh. The Centre will help industry overcome challenges relating to recruiting and retaining skilled personnel while empowering the workforce and contributing to the development of the country.”