Focus on skills as 25pc of garment manufacturing to be automated by 2023

Some 25 per cent of garment manufacturing activities in the country will be carried out through automation by 2023, up from the existing 8 per cent, forecast Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), yesterday.

This is because the sector has already entered the fourth industrial revolution and is witnessing the adoption of artificial intelligence, she said.

So workers, especially females, need to be skilled and reskilled so that they can continue to make contributions to this important business in the time of automation, she said.

Education is the answer when it comes to the question of how female workers can be helped, said Huq.

So different platforms need to disseminate education for skilling the massive number of female workers, as they have been tremendously contributing to the industry, she said.

Huq was addressing as a panellist a virtual programme on “Women Power – the Force Multiplier” organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham).

The scenario of women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh has been progressing in the right direction, said Uzma Chowdhury, chief finance officer and director of PRAN-RFL Group.

However, some women entrepreneurs have been facing difficulties in accessing finance due to the fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, adding that 40 per cent of her company’s 115,000 employees were women.

In 2020, her company’s total sales amounted to $2 billion. It exported goods worth $500 million to 210 countries across the globe, said Chowdhury.

Rubaba Dowla, managing director of Oracle Bangladesh, said her company has been providing health services to men and women through online video conferencing since 2018.

It is very important that female entrepreneurs get collateral free loans as they face different difficulties in getting a business up and running, said Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.

Of the challenges, some lie in the process of obtaining trade licences and loans from banks, she said.

Some 80 per cent of enterprises owned by females have been affected as part of the fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic as most of those are cottage, micro, small and medium ones, which have been hit hard, said AmCham President Syed Ershad Ahmed.

Till date, a majority of female entrepreneurs could not avail loans from the government-sponsored stimulus packages, he said.

Although many female entrepreneurs have been affected as part of the fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic, many have also benefitted, said Luna Shamsuddoha, an AmCham member and chairperson of Dohatec New Media.

Moderating the meeting, she also put emphasis on the importance of skilling, reskilling and upskilling of workers, reasoning that the global economy was transforming into a digitalised one.  

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