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Training young rural women to find urban jobs in Bangladesh

April 20, 2016

Youth are central to Bangladesh’s shift from a rural to urban economy. The country’s booming garment industry has created urban employment for large numbers of rural youth, especially young women. But not everyone has equal access to these jobs. Many rural youth face barriers to urban work, including distance  and a lack of information.

Research supported by IDRC, and led by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), is examining ways to improve young rural Bangladeshis’ chances of securing decent jobs. As part of this project, researchers are evaluating an innovative training and job placement program designed mainly to help young women from northern Bangladesh.

The program, launched four years ago in Gaibandha District by Gana Unnayan Kendra, a local non-governmental organization, involves one month of skills training and a stipend. This is followed by an internship at a selected garment factory, usually in Dhaka, along with mentoring and help finding a good job. Early estimates suggested that most trainees completing the program were able to find work, but a more complete evaluation was needed to fully assess the program's impact and discover how the training can be improved.

The research carried out by SANEM will identify which elements of the program – the stipend, training, or mentoring – have the biggest effect on helping trainees secure jobs. Researchers designed a randomized control trial involving 1,600 participants. A six-month follow-up survey showed that 45% of those who received the full treatment (training with an internship and stipend) and completed the program were able to find a job in the garment industry. This is substantially higher than those who received only training (11.5%) or training with a stipend (16%).

SANEM researchers are presenting and discussing these and other results with government officials, seeking to inform policies aimed at improving rural youth’s chances of securing better-paying factory jobs.

Read the SANEM report, which covers a wide range of issues related to labor markets in Bangladesh

For more information about the evaluation, check out Building new skills for better jobs in Bangladesh

Read the news article in Bangladesh’s Daily Star Equip youth with skills to accelerate growth

Learn more about the skills training program run by Gana Unnayan Kendra​

Abu Shonchoy describes his research findings for the IDRC-funded project. His research tested various strategies for matching the rural poor with sustainable factory jobs in Bangladesh.

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