LAHORE: The country’s value-added textile sector is facing shortage of at least 40,000 skilled workers annually including 20,000 in Karachi, 10,000 in Lahore, 5,000 each in Faisalabad and Sialkot. And after the establishment of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park in Sheikhupura and garment city in Faisalabad the value-added textile sector’s requirement of skilled workforce will touch the level of 400,000 people annually.
This was the deliberations of the executive committee of the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) who were talking to the visiting delegation of Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA).
TIKA Country Coordinator Pakistan Mustfa Giray Tezel while addressing members of PRGMEA said that Turkey will cooperate in the upgrading of textile curricula in addition to providing experts and master trainers to improve the overall skill and expertise of the Pakistani workforce.
He said that his visit PRGMEA will help him understand grey areas where the textile industry requires necessary skills and expertise.
“We would arrange Turkish experts to impart training to the Pakistani workforce in order to fulfil the requirement of local industrial textile units especially those engaged in export to European countries,” he informed.
PRGMEA NZ vice chairman Jawwad Ch told the delegation that capitalization of GSP plus through skilled workers and fashion designing is largely based on high tech manufacturing equipment and training to the workforce that is around 10 million across the country. The government should evolve a mechanism for skills development of workers to help them learn more of fashion designing for setting firm foot in the EU markets.
Addressing the meeting PRGMEA chief coordinator and former chairman Ijaz Khokhar said that manufacturing of fashion apparel is key to capitalize on the GSP plus.
He said that garment is one of the most labour intensive as presently, 40 per cent or 2.5 million of country’s skilled and semi-skilled labour force is engaged in garment sector.
The $1.2 billion industry of Sialkot is running below capacity by at least 30 per cent partly due to energy issue and mainly owing to crucial shortage of skilled as well as semi-skilled workforce, he added.
Sajid Salim Minhas, PRGMEA former chairman, appreciated the support of Turkey in helping Pakistan improve its economy and bring a qualitative improvement in its socio-economic environment.
Sajid Minhas also appreciated the Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab secretary industries and Prime Minister of Turkey for their efforts to bring revolution in garment industry in Pakistan.
PRGMEA former chairman M Sohail said that there is large scope of textile industry growth after GSP Plus status, as this sector may witness double growth by 2016 but there is no roadmap of producing professionals to be absorbed in this sector. “Our training system is supply-driven, lacks meaningful participation of stakeholders, and is not geared to meet the current needs of skills market.”
With a view to capitalize on GSP + package, he also urged the government to introduce a soft import policy to help manufacturers diversify apparel products to augment their businesses and export.