To make the governments’ audacious dream come true to increase the annual export to US$50 billion dollars by 2021, become a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041, the quality and quantity expansion of textile education is a must. It is true that textile education is already playing an important role to enhance the textile and apparel industry. And the current system is producing a good number graduates every year. The curriculum, the skill sets the graduates are getting and their quality has been questioned by many from the industry. And most cases the outgoing graduates can’t fulfill the expectations of the industry.
However, a modified curriculum is needed to provide skilled manpower in the textile and apparel sector. Md. Siddiqur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), recently said, “There are a lot of universities in the country where the industry is not getting the skilled graduates equipped with quality education as it required.”
Producing huge quantity
Sitting at the New Year 2019, we can report that the number of institutions providing textile related courses has been increasing. And the trend will continue to remain strong in the coming days. Even the government is in an aggressive mode in increasing such education. The government has an ambitious plan to put one textile degree college in every district.
The leading government institution for textile education, Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX) has been drastically increasing its capacities by adding new subjects. BTMA is supporting an institution like National Institute of Textile Engineering & Research, which is also increasing yearly student enrollment. However, still, there is a question on the increase of corresponding facilities in these institutions to provide a quality education. By shifting to its new campus in 2018, BGEMA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT) has dramatically increased its student enrollment. The system today is producing a huge number of textile graduates every year.
Prof Dr. Ayub Nabi Khan, Vice-Chancellor (Acting) of BUFT, said, “Every year, around 3500 graduates are graduating from private and public universities.”
It is true that day by day the demand for technical education is increasing. At present, about 14 percent of students of Bangladesh are receiving technical education. In the past, technical education was not popular at all. In recent years, textile education has gotten a great momentum.
Many say that, the trend is not only because the sector is providing dream careers but also as other sectors are even lagging far behind. As many graduates in Bangladesh are unemployed, textile subjects are attracting a huge number of youth, as the possibility of getting a job here is much higher.
Still, there is gap particularly in quality
The country takes pride in the sector that has been fetching billions of dollars as export earnings and creating jobs for millions of people in the country. However, still, a huge number of foreign staffs are working in the sector and taking away a huge amount of foreign currency. Due to a mindset, that textile is a technical subject and students hardly need to develop soft skills. And Bangladeshi professionals are coming out from major textile schools without efficiently developing personal skills, communication skills, and people management skills. In addition, due to this shortage, a huge number of foreign staffs are ruling the sector.
In the textile sector over 15000 Indian, and Sri Lankan employees are working who are taking over 5 billion dollars every year from this sector which is a concerning matter. Skilled manpower can be the replacement to mitigate the foreign experts in the textile and apparel industry.
Regarding this issue Prof. Engr. Masud Ahmed, VC of BUTEX, said, “There is always a gap, but we are trying to reduce the gap between the industry and universities. In addition, for that reason, at least once a semester it’s compulsory for every student to visit at least one factory. We always encourage students to visit factories more, because factories bring new products and machinery.”
Diversified skills needed for building a diversified industry
The textile and apparel industry acts as the backbone of the economy and as a catalyst for the development of the country. However, still Bangladesh is mainly delivering a very small range of products and so the industry is still less diversified. However, as the companies are getting bigger and profitability is going down, they require professionals having diversified skill set to cope up with the need of the time.
“We need to sit on the table to discuss the burning issue, educational institutions cannot make them skilled as new products, and new machinery comes first in the industry. To overcome the present scenario it is necessary to bring change on course curriculum and factory owners should participate in the curriculum process,” said Prof Dr. Ayub Nabi.
Ideally, the universities should move ahead of the industry. But here in Bangladesh, it seems the opposite and this trend has to be changed. The universities must be futuristic to implement the national vision. The nation should have a clear vision in every sector and accordingly, the education sector should be built.
The export-oriented textile industry is being about 40 years old, by now, should get the mature and diversified shape. Factories and businesses should be established in the whole value chain to reduce the risk and achieve the untapped opportunities.
To help make it happen, the universities and textile educational institutions to go for further diversification and producing graduates who can lead the industry towards product and market diversity.
A big rise in demand for professional training
Until the education system does not achieve the capacity to build skilled human capital, professional training could be a solution and many public and private training institutions are working to create proficient manpower. The campaign of Textile Today named ‘Transforming Human Capital’ is helping to create awareness on the importance of professional level on job learning and training.
Today it is well understood that investments behind human provide a fastest and safest return. Textile Today Training is integrating the resources joining hands with many experts and organizations to create an effective platform for helping the industries to transform their human capital. The unique side of Textile Today initiative is making the training affordable and communicating the activities through its strong network resulting engagement of the stakeholders within the process. When owners, buyers, employees all are convinced and aware of the possible outcomes of training than improvement is inevitable.
Textile professionals and students could develop around 45 training programs which are highly required for the comprehensive development of the professionals working in the textile industry.
Engr. Sanjoy Kumar Saha, Head of Textile Today Training informed that they could develop around 45 training programs which are highly required for the comprehensive development of the professionals working in the textile industry. Textile Today Training has been providing programs for both Soft Skills Development and Factory (Technical) Skills Development. TTT has also taken an initiative to implement sustainability in the industry by producing sustainability professionals.
The government of Bangladesh has taken several steps to optimize the human resource of textile sector and in this regard, SEIP (Skills for Employment Investment Program, National Skills Development Policy (NSDP), etc. are being implemented and many more initiatives are coming next year. Such training has been given in 32 different disciplines of Spinning, Weaving & Processing to the different level Management staffs of Member Mills. Intertek-SEIP, BKMEA-SEIP, BGMEA-SEIP, BUTEC-SEIP etc. are some collaborations under which the mentioned institutions are providing training to build a skilled workforce in the textile and apparel sector.
Md. Khairul Islam, DEPD, SEIP Project, said, “Skilled manpower is needed for the true development of the country and to start the dream journey. I believe that SEIP is playing the role of creating this skilled manpower for the textile industry.”
Under the SEIP project, a nine-month-long Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Textiles is being offered by Executive Development Center (EDC), Bangladesh University of Textile (BUTEX), to make them eligible for the updated industry. In 5 batches around 150 students are taking the course.