At a time when production cost is escalating by the day thanks to increased wages and overheads, more and more garment makers are taking to automation to maintain business profitability.
On the flip side, it is feared that more and more workers would lose their jobs due to automation and the section of workers that is expected to get affected the most are the women workers, who are considered the mainstay of the Bangladesh’s readymade garment industry.
A recent study has underlined that women workers are more vulnerable than their male counterparts to losing their jobs due to automation in 5 key sectors in Bangladesh including the readymade garment industry.
It said women in low-wage occupations with less education are likely to be impacted more due to high risk of automation in readymade garment and textile, furniture, agro-processing, leather and footwear and tourism and hospitality sectors at the beginning of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
“In the 5 key sectors, two in five jobs are at risk,” underlined the study titled Future Skills
Finding Emerging Skills to Tackle the Challenges of Automation in Bangladesh, which was carried out with an aim to assess the present situation on occupational role and skills in the key sectors at the advent of 4IR.
It may be mentioned here that the RMG industry accounts for 84 per cent of export earnings and employs directly 32.52 per cent of total employed population in the industrial sector and 6.58 per cent of total employed population in Bangladesh.
To extend insights beyond main occupations and sectors at risk of automation, several socio-demographic indicators have been analysed to further understand how workplace automation affects different segments of the workforce.
Education levels produce different odds of occupying a high-risk job. Workers with primary education are more at risk of losing jobs than those having secondary school education, the research found.
“Higher education and training helps develop competency needed for complicated tasks requiring advanced level of perception and manipulation as well as creative and social intelligence,” the study underlined while adding that low level and low quality postsecondary and tertiary education and training as well as low educational attainment level among the workforce are matters of concern.
The President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Osama Taseer said that advanced economics is seriously concerned that automation and robots powered by artificial intelligence will axe many occupations and wipe out skills from the workplace while adding that due to automation, many skills will become obsolete and many jobs will disappear within a short time.
As such Osama is for re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce to prepare them for the future, focusing primarily on big data analytics, drone and robot operators, large sorting and planting machine operators, mechanical engineering, artificial intelligence network experts, technology-driven services, computer-aided process and enterprise resources planning experts, etc.