Automation has been seen as an important part of the development of the textile and RMG sectors in Bangladesh. However, the success of automation and future experiences will largely depend on how we obtain skills.
We all know the 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 has already started to take place in every industry with the rapid change of technology, societal patterns, and processes. Every revolutionary change comes with a big challenge.
The 4th industrial revolution gives us new machinery to make production flawless. Now the challenge is to prepare our human resources for maintaining advanced machinery with proper skills. Most of the RMG sector workers of Bangladesh are women, so the challenge is becoming difficult in some way. According to a report from BGMEA, of the 4 million RMG workers in the sector, approximately 80% are women.
Many owners of the RMG sector willingly recommend female workers because of their cheap labor. Employers are often hesitant to provide training as they fear that workers will leave. Also, trinng is expensive for trainees to pay for their training.
The usual life span of a woman working in an RMG factory is between 18 years of age and middle age. By then if they are not proficient enough to adjust to the new machinery, soft skills are one of the key obstacles that prevent women workers from achieving supervisory positions. Consequently, training institutes should incorporate soft skills training in the course curriculum to enable women to obtain the necessary skills for promotion, otherwise, it might be a nightmare to be promoted with good wages.
Worldwide different organizations are working with women workers. This includes removing gender-based barriers, discriminatory behavior, and practices at the workplace, addressing sexual harassment at work and on their way to work, and improving women workers’ financial literacy for a better understanding of the facilities.
As the factories advance their machine technologically, the cheap labor of the unskilled female garments worker becomes less competitive. ILO, United Nations are partnering to resolve the growth and employment trends in the sector. Systems bottlenecks and opportunities for women to identify policies needed t confirm continued employment opportunities for women.
For advanced machinery skills development of RMG workers, the organizations guided a different training course that teaches negotiation, communication, and supervisory skills to the workers, and helps to build their reliance ability to look for higher positions as well as challenge the workplace issues. It might be possible to prepare them psychologically strong to ensure a sustainable workplace but hard to make them all concerned about the new machinery for the new era and adjust the automated machinery instead of manual machinery.
Low wages were a significant challenge in the light engineering and jute sectors while retaining workers was a challenge for advanced-level areas such as ICT and RMG. Trainers and private sectors reported a lack of technical and soft skills, creativity, and interest in some industries.
The good news is some industries took initiative to make their worker skilled by arranging training on automated machinery. Better Work Bangladesh’s Kamal Maruf, who led the research team said, “We pick out factories with buyers along GAP, Marks & Spencer, H&M, and Walmart. These buyers are assisting factories to procure automated and new machines, while also calling for the labor force to be upskilled.”
For Example, Pretty Sweaters Ltd. is arranging a training session through the initiative of better work on automated machinery for women workers who work in the winding and jacquard sections. As a result, woman workers can operate automated machinery to help them sustain their job in a future that will probably be dominated by automation.
Uttoron Training program beneficiaries in Dhaka, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, and Sylhet for developing the workers. In the primary data survey, 350 beneficiaries participated, with 75% being male.
Managing Director of Mohammadi Group, Rubana Huq said, “Most of the female workers have not gone beyond eighth grade, whereas maximum male workers have done up to high school.”
This means it is very difficult to train the workers about complex machinery but not impossible. Another crucial challenge is related to the skills and skilling of the workforce, compounded by the introduction of artificial intelligence and automation, which is replacing many low-skilled and medium-skilled labor forces.
TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutes can work on addressing these major challenges by translating and modifying the worker’s capacity in the developing country Bangladesh.
In a nutshell, Women workers are the main magician achieving the top position worldwide in the Bangladesh apparel industry. Women workers are developing their skills through workshops and training programs which might make them capable of the era of artificial intelligence.