Imagine a sewing machine operator (SMO) aged 20 years delightfully wishing his floor in-charge or production manager during the shift start in the morning and helping to create positive energy on the shopfloor! This wasn’t a trend a few years ago as an SMO used to stick to his machine without a blink of an eye and remained unaware of whosoever visited the floor. The situation is now taking a positive turn with the hiring of young talents who complete courses related to garment manufacturing or take training under various skill development schemes.
Growing apparel business creates opportunities for massive employment and the onus is on training centres
The garment manufacturing industry is not capital-intensive and the investment of a mere US $ 300 (Rs. 23,000) on a sewing machine can give employment to around two people. In accordance to industry standards, the man-machine ratio is 1:1.75 and, at some places, it is as high as 1:2.5. Hence an investment of US $ 15 million on sewing machines has the potential to give employment to around 100,000 people.
India’s garment manufacturing industry is already a US $ 46 billion industry (US $ 16 billion in exports, and US $ 30 billion in organised domestic industry as of FY ’22) and seeing a massive investment in capacity expansions across the country, the revenues will go up.
As per the Ministry of Textiles (India), the target set for apparel exports in FY ’23 is US $ 19-20 billion and that means the requirement for workers in export-oriented factories alone will be somewhere around 400,000 (apart from the already existing 8 million workforce in organised apparel manufacturing) if India needs to achieve this target and one can imagine the workforce required in the domestic apparel manufacturing which is also growing at rapid pace, buoyed by growth of fashion retailers in the country.
According to official data of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, training courses under the CTS (Craftsmen Training Scheme) are being offered through a network of more than 11,000 Government and Private Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) located all over the country with a total seating capacity of more than 16 lakh with an objective to provide skilled workforce to the industry in 126 trades including apparels.
The training programme in many of Government-funded garment-oriented training centres, such as ATDC, is effectively designed to impart one or two skill sets, which are demanded by the apparel industry, hence helping factories in direct hiring of workers from these centres.
Apart from these Government-funded centres, export houses like Shahi Exports and Matrix Clothing (ASDA) run their own training centres from where they hire hundreds of workers for areas such as sewing machine operators, in-line QC, and sampling operators, etc.
Private organisations like Wazir Advisors, Mega Matrix and GreyBeezPvt. Ltd., are also running their training centres and have tied up with factories to send workers there immediately after their training completes.
AMAS – Assisted Migration for Apparel Sector – programme of GreyBeez aims for quick and efficient absorption of migrant youth into entry level jobs of apparel manufacturing sector. This programme is being implemented through its training centre BeGenesis Skills Academy.
Factories are approaching training centres directly to hire workers
A trend that has been there for as much as 5 years is booming now after pandemic following an acute shortage of labour in apparel factories. The factories, such as Pearl Global, Matrix Clothing, Sabs Exports, Blackberry and Quantum Knits, amongst others, are asking for a fixed supply of workers.
An HR team of Pearl Global Industries, Gurugram recently visited a training centre in Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) where it picked 30 workers, who were ready to join an apparel factory. The workers already had basic and soft skills and they only needed a bit of counselling. “These disciplined youth join factories with a plan to stay for long. They are eager to learn and perform, and I have noticed that such workers create positive energy on the shopfloor and factories experience low absenteeism,” commented Bhagwan Das, HR Manager, Pearl Global.
Noida-based Sabs Exports has also hired recently 20 girls from the Government Girls Polytechnic of Shamli who are deployed in sampling and in-line QC department.
KPR Mill, a leading company of Coimbatore, is offering a lot of facilities in its garment division Quantum Knits to attract workers from other states and it has MoU with Jharkhand Government to hire 12,000 workers in various phases through state-sponsored and private training centres.
Another textile and apparel manufacturing giant from Tamil Nadu AKR Industries is also exploring possibilities to tie-up with training centres outside Tamil Nadu since finding skilled workers in the state is now a challenge for factories. “We are planning to collaborate with training centres located in Odisha, West Bengal and North East India to hire workers in our factory,” told Loganathan Kalimuthu, Managing Director, AKR Industries.
Sustain workers after hiring
It is standard practice that workers from skill training institutes get better wages, especially in South India, which is even Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 more than industry’s standards. Not only this, the workers in South India also get the facility of boarding and lodging so even if workers are hired from training centres located in other states, they get accommodation.
Quantum Knits has agreed to pay its new workforce hired from Jharkhand a monthly remuneration of Rs. 12,000 and takes care of their food and lodging. Dhanabalan S, VP, Quantum Knits said, “Workers are happy with the facilities and we are satisfied with their overall performance. Language is initially a challenge but it gets managed with time.”
The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) motivates and supports its member companies to hire workers from other institutes. “Direct hiring saves the workers and companies’ effort and money as in this system, neither company nor workers need to take help from an agent. Few of our members are hiring a good number of workers directly,” said Dr. K. Selvaraju, Secretary-General, SIMA.
Since these training centres get support from the Government under various schemes of skill development, they remain under pressure to ensure the placement of their students so they are not only approaching apparel manufacturing companies in this regard, but also motivating and pushing their students to go for placement.
“The factories have also started realising that rather than hiring an unskilled person and training him, it is much better to hire a person who has a proper course and good basic understanding of apparel manufacturing,” commented Dr.Roopak Vasishtha – CEO & DG, Apparel Made-ups and Home Furnishing Sector Skill Council.