Tirupur (India’s biggest knitted apparel manufacturing hub) is facing lack of skilled labour despite the fact that since last few years, overall apparel manufacturing has not been doing very well and considering that in last 4-5 years skill development has been focus for the industry as well as Government.
Many training centres are operational, and factories are training workers. As per industry insiders, as of now Tirupur needs around 80,000 workers. The hub, having a workforce of around 5 lakh people in apparel manufacturing, has an overall annual business of around Rs. 45,000 crore, out of which Rs. 26,000 crore is of export.
As far as labour scarcity is concerned, it can grow further as the hub has a target to achieve a turnover of Rs. 1 lakh crore in 2022, and for that 1 lakh new workers (apart from 80,000) would be required.
The high rents charged by landlords and the monotonous nature of the work are two main reasons for high worker attrition rate. A major chunk of Tirupur’s workers is migratory and most of them don’t prefer to come back after the festival season or due to family reasons.
As far as big export houses are concerned, many of them have worker-friendly policies and offer many incentives, welfare programmes, and so they are not much impacted by shortage of labour. Their continuous in-house training programmes keep creating a pool for skilled workers. Some of the big and medium units are offering free as well as cost-effective residence to the workers (see image).
KM Subramanian, MD, M Knitwear, speaking to Team Apparel Resources, said “There are good number of migratory workers and organised factories have sufficient labour. Only issue is to have skilled labour and for that skill development efforts need to increase.” The company, which has the distinction of working with some of the top brands produces 1 million pieces per month. He further added that in future productivity enhancement and maximum automation are the only best solutions.
As per the data of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), apparel manufacturing was the top segment during 2016-20, especially with regard to generating jobs for trained youth, as apparel sector placed 3,00,278 people across India.
Regarding skill development, Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) is one of the prominent initiatives of Union Government. As per the official data, Tamil Nadu tops the scheme, with 1,79,443 people having been trained in state so far, and 1,67,011 having been accessed. Out of those, 1,53,372 had been placed so far.
In Tirupur, with 22 IAs (implementing agencies) and 231 TCs 24,638 people were trained and 23,588 assessed. Out of those, 22,419 have been placed.
As per a report of New Indian Express (an English Daily), recently Senthil Vel, who runs an apparel manufacturing unit, had put up posters across the town, promising liquor, twice a day, for the selected male employee. Though it is just a single case of its own kind but somehow it also shows need of skilled labour. An industry expert believes, this is a wrong step that was just to create propaganda to popularise himself.
Industry stakeholders need to think on this issue as coming years are more critical for the industry. Orders can shift from China but does this hub have enough workers…