Helping Youth in Bangladesh STEP up to Better Jobs

October 11, 2016


STEP has already provided stipends to more than 110,000 poor diploma students in 93 private and public polytechnic institutions that enabled them to continue education.  In addition, nearly 77,000 youths have received free 6-month vocational training in 38 trades including electrical, automotive and garment sectors. 

Photo Credit: World Bank

  • Every year 2 million youths enter job market in Bangladesh. An increasingly skilled labor force is vital to accelerate economic growth.
  • Bangladesh is helping students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds enroll in market oriented vocational training courses and find better jobs
  • 96,000 diploma-level students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds have received stipends to access and continue vocational trainings for improved employability and better jobs.

Every year, 2 million young Bangladeshis join the labor force, but too few have the essential education or technical skills to match that employers need. Overcoming that mismatch is critical not only to improving the lives of those workers and their families. It can also build on Bangladesh’s impressive efforts to overcome poverty.

That’s the aim of the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (or STEP), an initiative helping poor, undereducated students – especially women – acquire new skills that can lead to paid work domestically and abroad.

Launched by the Government of Bangladesh in 2009, STEP offers workers vocational training, and it gives development grants to 33 public and private polytechnic institutions to improve quality of skills-training programs. STEP also provides stipends to all diploma-level female students, while adopting a poverty-targeting stipend for male students. 


Jarin Tasnima, a student at the Dhaka Mohila Polytechnic, is one of the 96,000 diploma students from 93 polytechnical institutions who received stipends. “I was lucky to participate in the STEP skills competition,” Tasmina said. “After a month’s hard-work, I won the competition and got a stipend, so, I could pursue my career as a computer engineer. Technical skills helped me get an edge in a constantly changing global job market.”

Also, under the STEP, the Government has hired 1,141 contractual teachers in around 50 public polytechnics, filling up 98 percent of the vacancies.

In 2014, STEP spawned the Recognition of Prior learning (RPL), which helps people working in the Bangladesh’s informal workforce get the training and certifications that can lead to better jobs and more pay. Since then, RPL has assessed the skills of more than 9,000 applicants seeking training and certification in electrical installation and maintenance; IT support; block, boutique and screen printing; sewing machine operation; tailoring and dress making; motorcycle servicing; plumbing; and welding. 

" With this new certification, the demand for my services kept growing. I decided to start my own business and employ 7 individuals who were previously unemployed and now receive a regular monthly salary "

Nikhil Chandra Roy

who received certification through the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP),

STEP also organizes job fairs to connect the potential employees and employers. More than 1,700 trainees received job offers at the job fairs. Moreover, about 65 percent of the polytechnics established industrial partnerships for internships and job placement and offers job counselling to the students.

“After completing my training as a beautician, I wondered how to use my skills to find a job” said Sonia Akter, who attended a STEP-organized job fair and got a job as a beautician in a beauty parlor. Currently, she earns 6,000 BDT (the equivalent of $150) a month.

The training helps workers find work not just in Bangladesh’s evolving job market but in other countries, too. Every year, around 400,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers go abroad to try their luck. In 2015, the country earned a remittance of $15,170 million. Remittances have become a driving force for Bangladesh’s economy. 



Helping Youth in Bangladesh STEP up to Better Jobs