H&M has announced its commitment to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative that aims to accelerate progress towards the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The global clothing company will invest in skills training for an estimated 5,000 people in Bangladesh’s garment industry by 2016.
Through a “Skill Development Centre of Excellence,” the company hopes to raise the levels of vocational training and provide certificates to garment workers. The training is designed to help increase productivity, as well as the long-term employability of industry workers. If the initiative is successful, H&M says it also plans to establish a certified and replicable model for training and support for skilled labor within the export readymade garment industry.
Speaking on the initiative, Helena Helmersson, Global Head of Sustainability at H&M said, “We are pleased to announce our partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) at the BCtA platform as another step in our commitment to support long-term social development in Bangladesh. The training will raise the workers’ level of education, provide them with skills required for development of the industry and increase their employability.”
Welcoming the move, Sahba Sobhani, Program Manager at BCtA said: “Through its expertise and focus on long-term sustainability, H&M’s focus on skills and development training, ensuring better workplace conditions and social dialogue in countries like Bangladesh is a win-win for all.”
As the world's second-largest clothing retailer, H&M plays an important role in Bangladesh’s economy. Recent catastrophes and exposés of working conditions for the country's garment workers have forced clothing companies to address the rampant safety and human rights issues in their supply chain. This new skills training initiative follows recent announcements about H&M’s other efforts to improve conditions throughout its Bangladeshi supply chain, including its commitment to pay textile workers a 'living wage' by 2018 and its support of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangaldesh.