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Automation’s effects in apparel industry

With industry 4.0 in full force and COVID-19 throwing up new challenges for the apparel and textile industry supply chain; the industry adopting full automation is a looming reality.

Automation-effects-apparel-industry
figure: An Automated guided vehicle robots efficiently sorting hundreds of parcels per hour.

Undoubtedly this increases the speed and efficiency, but it also reduces the human workforce. Which is an alarming prospect for labor-intensive Asian countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic already highlighted the vulnerability of apparel workers in these countries. The pandemic is now in its sixth month and it has offered an exclusive challenge for labor-intensive businesses.

Companies – especially manufacturing ones, rely deeply on manual labor that is cheap and readily accessible. But with its highly-infective nature, the COVID-19 has enforced labor-intensive industries to go into extended shutdown.

The developed economies have been discussing for decades and have now taken on a new significance: the question of replacing human labor with automation.

As automation will mostly take over manual, repetitive jobs, the government needs to make it a priority to train and retrain workers in these positions. Imparting soft skills that match the new types of jobs will help both old and new entrants to the labor force. The government can create a dedicated fund to ensure adequate investment and address the needs of more vulnerable groups.

Since automation will primarily take over manual, repetitive jobs, the government needs to make it a priority to train and retrain workers in these positions.

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