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New challenge of automation in garment industry

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06th-Mar-2018       
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THE growing automation in garment factories is slowly reducing female workers' participation ratio in the workforce said a study report conducted by a local think tank unveiling concern to female workers and its possible impact on growing female unemployment at low income level. Automation naturally reduces involvement of human being in manufacturing and as female workers are slowly losing more ground in job market to male workers - through their proportion is still on high side - we are afraid it may slow down poverty reduction as well when it comes about unskilled female workers. 

Report said automation in garment factories has reduced the female workers' participation ratio to 60.8 percent in 2016 from 64 percent in 2015. The finding was based on a survey of 193 garment factories covering 2,123 workers. We must say automation is surely working to bring qualitative change in the industry. This is a new phenomenon in the garment industry when remediation is taking place in almost all factories after several major industrial accidents like Rana Plaza collapse and fire at Tazrin garment factories. It is proving suitable to garment factories to ensure quality precession of products and execute work order in time to maintain the strict lead-time set by international retailers, but the question is how to keep its impact minimum.

It is no doubt expensive; but equally profitable as it can produce many times more than a worker to require hiring lesser number of workers to save cost. But it is going to create big disadvantage to female job-seekers to add to more female unemployment. Poor families may eventually suffer unless educated female workers will enter the job market with upgraded skill training.

The deceleration of female workers' means their ratio is falling in the workforce when over 90 percent female workers dominated the industry as low cost labour at the beginning. It is obvious factory owners are find automation profitable because female workers are not physically strong to handle machinery and also less knowledgeable about operating different machines. Need to be mentioned that around 47.37 percent of large garment factories and 25 percent medium factories now use advanced technologies.

In our view the impact of automation is same in allmost all societies, which is rival to manual workers. What Bangladesh garment industry should do now is to create more scope for training of workers and female workers in particular to allow them to adapt to changes in the industry.

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