The time for local innovations in the RMG sector

Bangladesh mainly depends on external expertise for innovation in the RMG sector. As the world moves towards the era of Industry 4.0, Bangladesh must develop an education system that champions innovation to compete at the upper end of the value chain

July 20, 2022, 10:05 a.m.

Last modification: July 20, 2022, 10:09 a.m.

Caption: If Bangladesh is to remain competitive at this critical stage in its journey, its RMG sector must take the lead in innovation. Photo: Mumit M.


Caption: If Bangladesh is to remain competitive at this critical stage in its journey, its RMG sector must take the lead in innovation. Photo: Mumit M.

Bangladesh pocketed $42 billion from the export of ready-made garments (RMGs) in the financial year 2021-22. Bangladesh is now the second largest RMG exporting country in the world, with a share of around 6.5% of the global market. The RMG sector accounts for around 84% of the country’s total exports, employing some four million people.

Although the country’s RMG industry is well positioned and is the largest contributing sector to the national economy, all of us involved in the RMG business are aware of the intense competition that currently exists in the global fashion industry.

Times are changing and Bangladesh continues to adopt cutting-edge garment manufacturing technology. Our country’s garment factories embrace innovation in everything from raw material procurement to CAD (computer-aided design) tools that speed up the entire product design and development process, maximizing fabric usage, reducing standard garment manufacturing minutes, reducing laundry costs and the possibility of inferior products being rejected. Innovation has contributed to the sustainable and ecological impacts of the whole sector.

Undoubtedly, if Bangladesh wishes to remain competitive at this critical stage in its journey, its RMG sector must take the lead in innovation.

Given the importance of innovation to our RMG industry and, by implication, to the nation as a whole, there seems to be a distinct lack of innovation within our education system and institutes in Bangladesh. Currently, most of the innovations introduced in the RMG sector are purchased from foreign companies.

Not only does this involve the purchase of physical machines and the technology that goes with them, but it also generally involves the hiring of foreign nationals to ensure the correct implementation of the product or project, and the general maintenance of this product when is in place. .

Relying on expertise from outside our shores is not at all viable for Bangladesh’s RMG industry in the long run. They offer a short-term solution; they leave the Bangladeshi RMG industry dependent on the services and innovation of foreign companies at a time when the sector should find its own solutions to the problems it will undoubtedly face. So, for the continuous development of the RMG industry in Bangladesh, we must nurture our local talents in the field of innovation.

We are fortunate to have a population of approximately 167 million people, of which approximately 70% are under the age of 40. Indeed, it is time to invest and improve the technological capabilities of current and future employees to encourage them to embrace technological advancements so that they can bring new innovations to the RMG industry that we can proudly call our own. .

The Bangladesh RMG sector is beginning a new chapter in its journey. The security overhaul that the industry undertook after the Rana Plaza is an important part of this journey. Bangladesh is currently one of the safest garment manufacturing centers in the world. When buyers buy from Bangladesh now, the “Made in Bangladesh” stamp provides certain guarantees of safety and durability. This is real added value. It is therefore time for the Bangladeshi RMG industry to reap the benefits of this added value based on innovation.

To be sustainable, Bangladesh’s RMG sector needs to take a slightly different path over the next decade. This path could potentially lead to further job creation, but the majority of these jobs will be in higher value-added areas incorporating innovation.

This will not only lead to more jobs than the four million jobs the industry already provides, but will also lead to better jobs. Thus, Bangladesh needs to think carefully about how it can develop an education system to provide the RMG sector with the industry leaders of the future that will enable the sector to compete at the upper end of the value chain. and to meet the need for competent intermediate personnel. management in the age of 4e industrial Revolution.

Abdullah Hil Rakib is the Managing Director of Team Group. He is a director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and a board member of BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.

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