What is Bangladesh’s ‘Internship Policy’ all about

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What is Bangladesh’s ‘Internship Policy’ all about

Bangladeshi fresh graduates can work as interns at government offices. The breakthrough for the country’s youth came with the government’s announcement of an ‘Internship Policy’ in October 2023. CRI’s long advocacy campaign since 2015 influenced the formulation of the policy.

The Internship Policy, the first of its kind in the country, is aimed at giving the youth opportunity to work in public sector environment and develop practical skills needed to enter the workforce. This would give them an idea of how government institutions operate and critical policy decisions are being implemented. The policy also covers private sector placements provision; it encourages private bodies to increase internship opportunities for fresh graduates.

The policy initiative is a well-timed response from the government when the country charts its course to become an advanced economy by 2041. A highly-skilled workforce will be one of the key drivers of the economy that will have to navigate the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The policy is going to push the agenda of skill-upgradation. It will address the skill mismatch issue that accounts for the country’s high graduate unemployment rate.

Internship Policy 2023

According to the policy stipulations, all government, semi-government, autonomous, and state-owned enterprises will be required to offer internship opportunities to qualified graduates.  Internship opportunity will not be available to military/civilian/paramilitary law enforcement, security forces, intelligence agencies, and key point installation (KPI) establishments declared by the government. Government offices will create internship opportunities taking budget approval from the Finance Division. The duration of internship will be between three and six months.

Who can avail

Internship opportunities will be available to Bangladeshi citizens with graduate/postgraduate degree. However, one must apply within two years of completing her/his graduate/postgraduate or equivalent degree. Each candidate can work as intern in a government office only once.

Application procedure

Government agencies will now be required to float internship advertisements to attract fresh graduates. The advertisement post will mention the required eligibility, instructions on how to apply and an overview of the role needs to be played by the interns. The selection will be conducted by a specially formed committee for each concerned institution. Applicants will be selected based on merit and academic background, as determined by the concerned institution. Special consideration will be given to women, minorities, and individuals with special needs.

Internship benefits   

After enrolment, an intern will receive an allowance every month. The government will determine the amount of the allowance. An intern has to obtain a satisfactory note from his/her supervisor to claim the monthly allowance. The institutions will give certificates after the completion of an internship.

Young Bangla’s Vision 2021 Internship

In Bangladesh, many private organizations, mainly corporate bodies, offer internship programs for fresh graduates of certain disciplines. Government offices never offered such opportunities to the youth. CRI’s youth platform Young Bangla initiated the concept of an inclusive program that would create internship opportunities on a wider scale in the public and private sectors. After a series of consultations with stakeholders, ‘Vision 2021 Internship’ program took shape and got rolling in 2015. Young Bangla has since collaborated with several ministries, government institutions and private sector companies to create internship and employment opportunities for the youth.

Piloting of the first-ever public sector internship  

In 2016, Young Bangla collaborated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Ministry of Power Energy and Mineral Resources (MoPEMR) to launch the first-ever public sector internship program in the country. Since 2016, the two ministries welcomed fresh graduates to work as interns at different utilities and offices.  So far, 407 fresh graduates (370 from MoPEMR and 37 from MoFA) completed the program. Another 22 youths participated in the Fast Track Future Leader (FTFL) Internships of ICT Division of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology (MoPTIT) in 2017.

The interns receive a monthly remuneration of BDT 15,000 and a certificate after completion. The interns work under a designated supervisor at an office/department/utility. The program promotes a comprehensive reporting culture as the interns and the supervisor are required to submit completion reports from both ends at the end of an internship program.  The internship period is usually 3 to 6 months.

Advocacy story

Public sector internships have been very common across the world for over 2 decades now. It is a tool to hone the skills of young people, but more importantly to acquaint young people of how the tax money are being used by the government machinery. In Bangladesh, around mid-2010s, seeing the non-engagement of youth in government affairs, CRI decided to initiate an advocacy process for internship in public sector.

It has been a 7 year-long advocacy journey which manifested into a holistic government policy. First CRI approached different ministries of the government to help pilot it and allocate some of their resources. Luckily the MoFA and MoPEMR were very receptive to the idea. Then CRI, through Young Bangla, opened a window for young people to apply for such internships. The response was overwhelming. Multiple rounds of intern ‘placement’ took place since it was first piloted.

CRI played a multi facilitation role: creation public interest, forming a civil society coalition, policy advocacy and piloting. Once the pilots yielded results and sustainability for nearly 4 years, CRI helped the government draft the policy document. It worked closely with government bodies, namely Governance Innovation Unit (GIU), Ministry of Public Administration and Ministry of Finance.

GIU took the lead in formulating the policy. Then Ministry of Public Administration adopted it and became the focal agency responsible for the policy implementation. It was then adopted by the highest decision-making body (the cabinet) of the government. The policy has to go into full-operation. CRI has continuously advocated for it and has provided government agencies with recommendation and technical support at all stages and times.

Key lessons

A framework evolved out of the ‘Vision 2021 Internship Program’ that shows how to design, implement, and monitor/evaluate an internship program under government office setting. Other agencies can use that as reference in future.

Two main challenges to implementing internship program are to create awareness among government offices and lack of guideline. That indicates policy intervention is required to guide management of internship program.

The internship program at public sector, in association with relevant stakeholders, needs to be carefully managed, implemented and coordinated in order to achieve the goals and targets.

Internship program needs to be monitored and evaluated to determine achievements and take measures to improve and ensure sustainability of the program.

The ministries, departments and utilities which implemented the internship program faced the challenge of securing fund in time. They must proactively liaise with the Finance Division to secure funding in time. Earmarked budgetary allocations need to be made in order to make the internship more programmatic and sustainable.

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