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Build your career in the garments industry

The garments industry is one of the fastest growing industry in Bangladesh. The industry plays a vital role in the country’s economy and that is well known to all. According to BGMEA report there are 5500 export oriented garments industries listed in our country employing more than 5 million of workers and officers. And most reports say that there in fact around 3600 export oriented RMG factories employing around 4 million people. Whatever are the real numbers here in this article is all about the career opportunities in the garments industry. If you are a garment technology graduate you have lots of career paths in this industry. Once you read this article you will surely find one of your most interesting career goals. — Maeen Md. Khairul Akter

Introduction to garment industry

Bangladesh is the second largest garment producer in the world after China. In the financial year 2012-2013 the country exported RMG of $21.5 billion which is 78% of the total national export and in this financial year the target is over $23 billion.

In the garments industry one has variety of options to choose as career. It is true that compare to other industries like IT or Automobiles the average pay for the low level workers and staffs is less. But highly paid jobs are also available in the garments industry. To name few of the most attractive and well paid jobs are fashion designing, Product development, sourcing and marketing, apparel buying, garments production, production planning, industrial engineer, retailing, merchandising, testing lab experts, quality control, garments technician, apparel consultants etc.

In brief the garments industry makes clothes and clothing related products. Products include men’s, women’s and kid’s garments including outerwear, innerwear, sleepwear, bathing suits and many other items. Even you would find garments industries making animal clothes. Other divisions of garments produce home fashion garment, home furnishing and home textiles.

Bangladesh garments industries produce clothes for both domestic and international markets. Along with 5500 export oriented garments industry there are at least another 3000-3500 garments industry that works on sub-contracts and for local markets. The garments industry consists of small, medium and large size companies. Bangladesh is well reputed for its large vertical garments set-ups whereas in India and Pakistan most of the garments industries are of medium economic sizes.  According to the company sizes, total number of employees in a firm varies. Small manufacturing companies that sell garments primarily to the local market and they are scattered in all over the country. Medium and large size firms produces bulk quantity for export market as well as domestic market are located only in few zones, like in Dhaka city, Gazipur city, Ashulia town, Savar, Narayanganj, Norshingdi, Manikganj and Chittagong city.   In recent years the garments industry is growing rapidly in other parts of the country as well especially in the export processing zones like Ishwardi EPZ, Uttara EPZ, and Comilla EPZ etc. There are garment factories in different districts’ BSCIC industrial area also.

In the garments industry one has variety of options to choose as career. It is true that compare to other industries like IT or Automobiles the average pay for the low level workers and staffs is less. But highly paid jobs are also available in the garments industry. To name few of the most attractive and well paid jobs are fashion designing, Product development, sourcing and marketing, apparel buying, garments production, production planning, industrial engineer, retailing, merchandising, testing lab experts, quality control, garments technician, apparel consultants etc.

The working areas in a garments industry is basically in garment manufacturing, fashion designing, product development, pattern-making, cutting, sewing machine operating, quality assurance and finish processers. But like most other industries, garments industry also employs staffs for administration, maintenance, IT, Human resources, ware house, commercial, marketing etc.

In the garments industry one has variety of options to choose as career. It is true that compare to other industries like IT or Automobiles the average pay for the low level workers and staffs is less. But highly paid jobs are also available in the garments industry. To name few of the most attractive and well paid jobs are fashion designing, Product development, sourcing and marketing, apparel buying, garments production, production planning, industrial engineer, retailing, merchandising, testing lab experts, quality control, garments technician, apparel consultants etc.

Job Opportunities

As mentioned above according to educational qualification one can choose one of the following career options. Many institutes try to ensure campus placement for their final year student. Otherwise, one can approach directly to the companies for a job. Like other industries a fresh candidate may face difficulties to get his/her first job but once he/she is placed, there is a lot of opportunities for the next jobs. One can choose from the below list according to his/her competency and interest.

Garments Production:

If you are looking to build your career as a garments production executive you must be acquainted with the garments production process. A diploma or bachelor degree in knitwear or woven-wear production can provide you the knowledge and skill to work efficiently in the industry. Garments production officers basically deal with operation processes, maintaining and improvement of standard minute values of operation, worker management and as a whole to produce the end product with the required specification.

Good personnel management skill, motivational skill, ability to work in team, good analytical ability, and great patience to look at subordinates problems would help one to build career in garment production.

tthThe career path would take one to own a factory or being in the top level executive position of the garment factory.

For many years, in this area there were not many technologists or engineers working. Many of the staffs grown up in career from garment production line having good experience but in most cases lagging above mentioned quality as the lag in academic educational background. And so there is a very big demand for technologists to work in these positions as they can make significant changes in improving productivity and efficiency. If technologists start to work more in this field, Bangladeshi garment factories will be able to move towards value added complex products from basic products.

Product Development:

Customers are always in search of better products; both in terms of quality and design. So the manufacturers are always in a rush to launch new products in the clothing market. Product developers are responsible for developing new items and products that are feasible in terms of factory capacity and buyers requirement. Though Bangladesh is still only in the cutting and making phase of garment trade but there are factories as well who are developing their own product design and presenting them to the potential buyers. You can only put premium prices on a product if the design is yours. So product development is very important for sustainable business. If you have good knowledge of garment specifications, patterns and production processes, a career in the production development department will be very suitable for you.

Creativity, ability to work in design backgrounds and software, good idea on global fashion trend, good knowledge on materials & there properties, small scale cutting making skill and strong imagination skill will help one growing in this field.

In this country, in many important product development positions foreigners are working against high pay. Many factories are looking for right persons but not getting enough. And so there is a big demand of fashion designers & product development executives in the sector.
Sample and product development staffs remain very close to the marketing directors of a company as they need very quick responses on products, their composition and processes. Career path has to be very smooth and demanding. Doing some professional training on using of fashion designing software will help getting in this department. Starters may enter in the pattern or cutting section of a garment industry.

Industrial Engineering:

Industrial engineering is commonly concerned with time study and work study. Garments production is immensely interconnected with time as the lead time and productivity are key factors. Industrial Engineers are responsible for determining and improving the optimum time frame for every production processes. Line balancing is also a key job for them. Industrial Engineers plan the layout of machines & workers and determine the time-frame for a particular style. Industrial engineers are responsible for keeping time accounts for production processes of different styles of garments in order to finish the order well before the lead time. It is one of the challenging jobs in the garments industry and graduates from Industrial Engineering, Production Engineering or Industrial Management can work efficiently in this position. Industrial Engineering can lead to projects like Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen Production Management system etc. It is one of the high paid jobs in the garments industry as well.

Planning:

Planning is another important department of a garments industry. Without planning, a smooth production process cannot be run and the end goal cannot be achieved. Planning is to decide in advance what to do to achieve a specific target. According to the production order and floor position planning executives develop flow charts of pre production activities and production to ensure a smooth flow of works in the factory. Management Information System (MIS) and ERP software are useful in this regard. So a planning executive must be knowledgeable about these planning tools. Supply chain and inventory management is other additional responsibilities that you may have to handle if you wish to work as a planning officer. Planning executive’s co-ordinate with the Industrial engineers, merchandisers & product development sections and disseminate works between the departments so that the order can be finished in time.

Planning department usually needs to be in close contact with all the departments of the factory. Order-wise execution is done making a time and action plan. Managing preproduction activities is a very important part to make the factory capable of achieving set lead times. Planning department can continuously work to reduce overall lead time of the factory.

Quality Control:

Quality is the aspect of product that determines the acceptability in the market. That’s why there’s no way but to maintain the quality of products so that customers are retained. Quality control in garments industry is concerned with the garments specifications, measurements, fabric types, sewing quality, accessories quality and many more things. QC officers are responsible to ensure that all the parameters are followed and all the check marks are checked. In most of the garments industry there is online quality control system where you inspect the product in several places of the production line to check its quality. To be a quality control officer you must have sound knowledge on garments specification and measurements, textile materials and accessories. Most importantly you should have good knowledge of garments faults and defects to detect them and take corrective action. QC is also considered as one of the well paying jobs in the garments industry.

Cutting, CAD:

CAD department is responsible for pattern and marker making and supply it to the cutting room. This is one of the important rooms for a garments industry as fabric consumption can be controlled from this unit. Fabrics; to be noted, incorporate 60% of total cost of garments making. So a 1% improvement of cutting efficiency can lead to a big cost saving at the end of the day. That’s why CAD and cutting personnel must be well trained and skillful. There is lots of software to use as CAD for marker making. Lectra, Gerbar, Audaces are some of the most popular ones used in the garments industries of Bangladesh. Training is available on garments CAD/CAM in many institutes. If you can pursue good skills in garments CAD/CAM, you can easily be enrolled in those positions due to high demand.

Merchandising:

Garments industries are equipped with lots of departments. Starting from fabric store to dispatch center there are at least 12-15 departments that work together to ensure smooth operation. A co-ordination between these departments hence, is essential. Moreover, most of the garments industry has to source their raw material from abroad or from some other local suppliers. So there is a big loop of supply chain involved. Especially, the woven garments mostly have to source their fabric from China. Merchandisers are responsible to ensure all the materials are in house in time and all the operations are running in time. In simple words, merchandisers make co-ordination between all the departments to reach the goal. Merchandisers are also responsible to communicate with buyers and suppliers and interpret their requirements in the production line. In many factories merchandisers are also engaged in commercial tasks like export, import and shipment. So merchandisers are the most important personnel of a garment industry. Diploma/graduates of Apparel Manufacturing, Apparel Merchandising and Textile Engineers are mostly suitable for this position.

Fashion Designing:

Fashion designing is the most lucrative and creative job in modern times. If you are a fashion designer you have a bright future ahead in big garment companies and fashion houses. Fashion design is a form of art dedicated to the creation of clothing and other lifestyle accessories. Fashion designers work on the design of items of clothing and fashion ranges. Some may focus completely on one specialist area, such as sportswear, children-swear, footwear or accessories. They can work on their own thoughts and concepts or sometimes they can be briefed by the company they are working for. It depends on the type of company you are working for. In garments industries where there is facility for research & development or design studios, fashion designers are of good use there. According to the market response and consumer behavior interpreted by the marketing team, fashion designers create new designs to capture the target market. As culture, society, place and time effects much in the behavior of customers towards their choice of wearing, fashion designers are of great value for sustainable garments business. Apart from garments industries fashion designers can find places in the local and international clothing brands as well. If you are a good designer and if you feel your designs are liked by the users, you have a great opportunity to be an entrepreneur and start your own little business.

Garment Buyer/ Garments Sourcing:

Garments trade is a global business. Almost 90% of the entire garment product used in the whole world is manufactured in only a small part of the world. China and a few East Asian countries along with South Asian counties are the garments manufacturing hub of the world. Hence, a large number of buying offices are located in these countries to source their product. There are numbers of buying offices of big garment brands in Bangladesh as well. These buying houses mainly recruit people to source garments for their outlets abroad. To be a garments buyer you have to be knowledgeable about the respective buyer’s recommended measurements, quality aspects and buying policies. A sound knowledge of garments structure, fitting and quality is essential. You should also have idea about the consumer behavior about certain products where it will be sold. A complete knowledge on garments structure, buying policy and negotiation skill is what you need to work as a garments buyer. There are lots of people who are even working in the local market as garments buyers. Garments buying in the renowned buying houses are believed as lucrative jobs.

Jobs in garment buying & liaison offices would come as merchandisers or production coordinators. Many buying offices also keep product development, fashion designing, fabric technologies, washing technologies within their capacity. So there are different scopes to work in garment buying & liaison offices.

Many of the technologists focuses these jobs very beginning as those looks very posh in terms of office location and management approach. But it is true that technologists have greater scope of learning in the factories than in the buying offices. It is important to have factory experience before one join in the buying offices. It has been seen that people who have well enough factory experience before they joined in buying offices have done better in career.

One must have very good communication skills, good analytical ability and should be adept in using modern communication tools for doing great in buying houses.

Project based jobs

With time and evolution of modern technology, garments industries are also starting to execute certain organisms and systems for better functioning and elevated profit. As garments industries are worker oriented, different management theories are applied to maintain smooth production and communication. This creates some project base jobs in the garments industries where respective specialists are recruited to apply the method. Two of this kind of job is seemed to be offered by many garments industries of late.

Lean management: “Lean”, is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, “value” is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Essentially, lean is centered on preserving value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Many of the garment industries are trying to adopt this philosophy to make their production process faster and less wasteful. These are case based jobs and you have to be an expert of Toyota Production System (TPS) to be able to apply this theory in garments production line. Applying lean in garment industry is a critical task though. An in depth understanding on the operations, products and process will be needed for successful application of lean in garment factories. These jobs are often offered by garments groups to adopt lean management say for 1 or 2 lines to see the results. As these modern philosophies are new to Bangladesh, with time as the results improve, more and more factories will be looking forward to adopt such systems. Lean experts have great value in the production industries as they can reduce material utilization significantly.

Resource management: Another mentionable project based jobs that you may find in the garments industry is resource management. Electricity, gas, compressed air and steam are the main resources used in the garments industry. Fabric and other accessories & trimmings would be considered as raw materials. Men or human resources and Materials are important resources as well. It is found that in most of the cases there are scopes to reduce the use of these resources without any qualitative change in the end product. These errors are mostly overlooked and a certain amount of these resources are wasted everyday without any purpose. But there are factories where management is aware of this and they employ people for resource management or waste control. If you are an electrical or mechanical graduate you have good opportunities to work in the garments industries to minimize resource utilization. With more cautiousness increased for resources, many industries are recruiting high caliber people for their resource management with high pay. And sometimes you may find project based jobs in this area as well.

Conclusion

As per market survey multi fold growth is expected in the domestic market both in retail and production. With the economic growth, cloth consumption per consumer will go up. As a result demand for cloths will rise automatically. To supply these demand garments industry will follow the same growth with export market side by side. It results the job advancement for each level of employees. Experienced garments professionals are welcomed by neighbor countries like India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and U.A.E. as well. Garments courses are also quite available in various levels in our country. You can surely build your career in your preferred area in the garments industry for a better and secure future.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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