The apparel manufacturing industry demands a lot of time from owner to mid-level professionals. Overall, 10 to 11 working hours or even more is a routine for many. This limited time forced nearly all to focus only on their existing roles and profiles, despite that they have strong intent to improve their existing skills and do something new and different, apart from what they have already been doing in their job over the years. Now, in the recent period of lockdown and the current phase of Unlock when they have comparatively more time for themselves, a large number of professionals have done good improvement in their knowledge and skills.
Similarly, many professionals who have lost their jobs or are on unpaid leaves for 3-4 months are also sharpening their pencils to grab opportunities in future. At the same time, despite having cost pressures, few companies have also supported their employees for training and have pushed them to work collectively on issues which were pending due to various reasons.
Online courses have emerged as a big tool for enhancing skills and knowledge for the professionals looking to improve at various levels. The biggest advantage of these courses is that these are not only updated, but are also crisp, cost-effective and time-convenient. On the individual level, time management, communication skills, leadership and negotiation skills are some of the most preferred among various learning choices by the professionals.
Interestingly, apart from sharpening the pencils to improve their skills, professionals also get the option to add new skills and profiles to become good at multi-tasking so that they can have more career options in future.
Working as a Senior Fabric Technologist at Asmara International, Bangladesh, Kapil Kamra is currently in India (Gurugram) and working from home. In the last 3 months, he has done more than 20 online courses and most of them belong to sustainability. “I see that in future, sustainability segment will have more jobs, so I preferred to invest my time in this. Three months ago, I had just a basic understanding of sustainability, but now I am extremely confident about my knowledge of the same and can manage it in day-to-day operations in the apparel industry.”
Various professionals who did such courses believe that on an average, 8 to 9 dedicated hours are required to complete a short-term course. There are many universities, colleges and private institutes offering such courses on weekly and monthly basis. One can explore as per his/her convenience. Few names include United Nations Institute for Training and Research, https://ai.google/, www.udemy.com,www.elearningcollege.com, www.coursera.org,LinkedIn Learning,www.classcentral.com, andwww.simplilearn.com.
These and many other such platforms offer all kinds of certificate courses, right from sustainability to soft skills, AI, digital marketing, machine learning, operational excellence and lean, etc.
At the same time, technical experts and consultants are also polishing their technical skills to remain up to date. Like soft skills, many value-for-money technical courses are also easily available.
Vishal Dhupar, Associate Director, Wazir Advisors, Gurugram, shared, “I have gone through few courses focusing on the quality circle, Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), and it was quite refreshing for me. Along with the latest updates, few new formulas and terminologies were really interesting learning.”
As webinars are quite common now and nearly all the topics are being covered in various webinars, many professionals are taking the webinar route to stay updated and enhance their understanding rather than opting for any courses. They find it easy as well as a direct way to understand things from experts and industry leaders. For a few professionals, webinars are now part of their daily routines and they are attending at least one every day.
Apart from individual efforts, some of the companies in the apparel manufacturing and retail sector have come forward to motivate their employees to turn this time to their advantage by undergoing some training programmes through online platforms. Such companies are offering flexible timings, free memberships of few websites and LinkedIn Premium so they stay motivated and manage things easily. All the learning is further shared and discussed among the team members to give them a better understanding of learned skills as well as increase coordination and good spirit among each other.
These companies are motivating their employees with challenging roles and proper support. Leading Indian brand and retailer of womenswear Madame decentralised its leadership and gave more power to various mid-level professionals which led to good results at ground level. “Our team worked well on management information system (MIS). Overall, we have improved on units per transaction (UPT) and conversion in sales. As the team did efforts together and the company supported them, we were able to control cost also,” says Akhil Duggar Jain, Executive Director, Jain Amar Clothing (Madame), Ludhiana.
Appreciating the support of his company, Manu Menon, National Format Head, QA, Reliance Trends Ltd., told, “I and my team have learnt a lot about various types of soft skills and now we are not only more confident, but also more enthusiastic about our work.”
Time and again over the years, it has been said that one has to continuously improve himself. And this pandemic has given only two things to the professionals – time and facility of work from home. As many have best utilised this time and are still moving in the right direction, it is time for everyone not to waste but invest in this time to improve their existing skills and explore new profiles so that the future can be brighter in the ‘new normal’. So, what are you waiting for?