CPD has suggested seven medium to long term initiatives in order to improve management practices at ready-made garments (RMG) enterprises
According to a survey by economic think tank, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a dearth of trained management professionals is hampering the development of the readymade garment (RMG) sector, despite significant improvement after the Rana Plaza disaster.
While 51% of managers at RMG factories have post-graduate degrees, one fifth have not completed graduate level education, the survey found. It was conducted in 3,856 factories across the country which employ 3.6 million workers.
CPD has suggested seven medium to long term initiatives in order to improve management practices at ready-made garments (RMG) enterprises.
The CPD made the suggestions at a conference titled “Transformation in the RMG Sector in Post-Rana Plaza Period: Findings from CPD Survey,” held at the Khazana Gardenia Grand Hall in Dhaka yesterday.
Presenting the keynote paper at the opening session, CPD Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said: “Ownership, management, and technology are often under-discussed in the context of Bangladesh’s apparel enterprises. Traditionally, the operations of apparels enterprises in Bangladesh have focused on volume-led, physical labour intensive, and moderately sensitive to health and hygiene related practices.”
“Better management and operation of RMG enterprises are associated with changes in production planning, cost management, human resource management, compliance assurance, and industrial relations, etc. These issues have become more important after the Rana Plaza tragedy,” he added.
“Overall, management related issues are becoming more and more important, with a view to improving business operations of RMG enterprises in Bangladesh” the CPD research director added. “The RMG sector has been compelled to comply with technological upgrading under a new business environment in order to maintain competitiveness in the post Rana Plaza period.”
The initiatives suggested by the CPD are:
Given the positive contribution made by educated and trained management professionals, the sector should promote such categories of staff through targeted measures such as compulsory minimum academic degrees and training for senior and mid-level management professionals.
Better educated and trained management professionals need to be made available for regions that are behind in terms of management performance, such as Chittagong and Narayangonj.
Separate service rules should be introduced for different categories of management and other professionals in the RMG sector.
Given the dearth of sufficient management and other professional staff in the positions of production planning, merchandising, quality control, and industrial engineering, enterprises should push to recruit foreign staff members in those positions.
Special effort needs to be put into the Boards of Directors of private limited companies, in order to make them effective and functional.
As many firms are lagging behind in technology, the introduction of advanced production processes in factories, and the proper training of workers and management staff is important.
There should be more effort put into developing designs of factories, so that functional upgrading can be achieved.
A number of weaknesses of local management staff were identified in the survey. These include management staff being overburdened, little diversity in the careers of senior staff members, modest academic backgrounds of most managers, and a shortage of foreign management staff at small and medium sized factories.
According to the survey, each member of management staff handled an average of 60 workers in 2016, as opposed to 56.1 workers per management staff member in 2012.
In addition, senior staff with average working experience of 21.1 years spent 18.1 years in the garments sector.
Furthermore, one fifth of managers do not have graduate level degrees, and very few have specialized degrees necessary to pursue management related jobs.
Moreover, 13% of enterprises reported that they employed foreign staff members, who were found to be important for working in sections where specialized knowledge and professional skills are required.
While foreign nationals account for 47% of management staff at large enterprises, they constitute just 17% and 5% of management staff at medium and small enterprises, respectively.
CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun delivered the welcome remarks. The conference was chaired by CPD chairman, Professor Rehman Sobhan. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Textiles and Jute Chairman and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, was the chief guest.
Commerce Ministry Secretary Shubhashish Bose, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Md Shafiul Islam, and Garments Workers’ Trade Union Centre President Montu Ghosh, were also present at the opening session.
CPD Distinguished Fellow, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, BGMEA Senior Vice President Faruque Hassan, and World Bank Lead Economist for Bangladesh, Dr Zahid Hussain, attended the second session of the conference.