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60% garment workers to lose jobs in Bangladesh by 2030

Nov 19, 2021
60% garment workers to lose jobs in Bangladesh by 2030

Bangladesh

A study by a2i and the International Labour Organization (ILO) predicts that 60.8% of garment workers in Bangladesh will lose their jobs to automation by 2030.

By 2023, it is predicted that 25% of RMG factories in Bangladesh will adopt automation. Advanced technology can play a critical role in enhancing the competitiveness of Bangladesh’s garment sector. One of the most prominent downsides of technology, however, is job insecurity.

Automation can already be seen in many sectors in Bangladesh, and as its influence continues to expand, its implications can be significant on workers. Technologies such as 3D printing have brought down the number of workers required in pattern design from 10-12 workers to 1-2. In spreading, the use of automated technology has reduced labour requirements from 10-12 workers to 2-3.

Cutting, which previously needed 100-120 workers, can now be managed with 60-70 workers. Adoption of automation is slow in Bangladesh because of the availability of cost-effective labour and the high capital investment required to automate factories. This is expected to change rapidly, though.

The owners of the large factories that have started automating say that the cost of purchasing machines can be recovered in 1-2 years and factories that invest in high-tech machinery are able to secure new orders to fulfil the extra capacity. While the rise of automation will impact everyone, women garment workers are more likely to suffer job loss.

Despite making up over half of the RMG workforce, women are seldom seen in leadership positions. Beliefs that women are unable to handle technology as well as training often being run after-hours means women often cannot attend skills development courses. This results in them often confined to low-skilled positions - the positions most vulnerable to job loss.

Asif Saleh, Eecutive Director, Brac, said that, they must understand the importance of futureproofing the industry and protect the livelihoods of workers. He added that, the focus must be on upskilling and reskilling our workers based on the future-of-work trends.

Workers, instead of being shed, can be reskilled and reallocated to meet increased demands. A multi-stakeholder approach is necessary to ensure that these efforts prioritise women. Simply building initiatives around training and skilling is not enough; the sector must collectively address the social barriers that often constrain women garment workers. This includes strengthening social protection and building support facilities such as day-care centres.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

Image Source: Google Images

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