The textile industry is the cornerstone of the Indian economy, accounting for 12% of the manufacturing sector GDP. It is also the second largest in terms of employment generation. About 45 million people are directly engaged in this sector, comprising mostly women and the rural population.
However, in the past few years, the industry has been witnessing a shortage of skilled labourers, impacting overall efficiency and productivity. While there are multiple factors keeping people from choosing this profession, rapid technological advancement is the primary one. This has deepened the skill gap, consequently intensifying the calls for investing in workers training to address the shortage.
Speaking at the 118th PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) Annual Session 2023, Mr Riju Jhunjhunwala, RSWM Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director said, “Established companies are now dedicating more time to ensure skill development for all their employees. This is crucial because there is a clear target set by all the ministers that by 2030, we have to reach a figure of $100 billion of export. To meet the goal everything must align with the right ecosystem.”
He said that challenges exist in every industry, but the textiles industry, specifically, being more manpower-driven, requires a significant number of blue-collar workers. Calling for a united effort to address this challenge, he asserted that, “RSWM Ltd. is working with the Government of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and others on this. And almost every state government is competing with each other to provide more support for the skilling of these workers.”
Further commenting on the potential competition from Bangladesh in the textile sector, Mr Jhunjhunwala refuted the notion that it posed a threat to the Indian textile industry. Drawing reference from the Chinese textile industry, which is larger than India’s he said, China has been the leading producer of cotton and man-made fiber. Furthermore, their factories are 10 to 20 times larger than those in India, providing them with significant advantages.
He outlined that “The advantage they (China) enjoyed for those 40 years is no longer present in Bangladesh. Yes, they (Bangladesh) are large, they’re larger exporters of garments than India. But they don’t have the kind of ecosystem that India has.”
He pointed out that even though Chinese factories are larger than Indian ones, their labour costs are double that of India’s. So, India still has some competitive advantages, and in the next few years, with several kinds of policies introduced by the government, it will get better.
While sharing his company’s expansion plan, he said that they started the journey as spinners and then moved on to manufacturing denim. Now as the world becomes more environmentally conscious, they have also ventured into the graphite electrode business and the hydropower sector to contribute to building a sustainable world.
The Indian textile industry has a rich history of manual craftsmanship, passed down from one generation to the other. Naturally, it has always relied on a heavy workforce of skilled individuals to create high-quality textile products. With time it has indeed embraced technology in response to changing demands and global competition, but it still requires a pool of skilled workers with expertise in diverse domains. This void can only be filled by skilling the workforce to meet future needs.
Exports: Textile industry crucial for govt’s ‘manufacturing’ mantra, ET Retail (indiatimes.com)
Schemes launched by the Government in Textile sector for employment generation (pib.gov.in)