“Apparel sector jobs, more lucrative” | Sunday Observer

“Apparel sector jobs, more lucrative”

18 June, 2023
Gihan Thalgodapitiya and Bharatha Egalahewa
Gihan Thalgodapitiya and Bharatha Egalahewa

Sri Lankan youth seeking future higher education options should look towards the apparel sector which produces lucrative employment opportunities, said two stalwarts in the apparel industry, Gihan Thalgodapitiya and Bharatha Egalahewa.

Both founding directors of Garment Industry Management Institute in Narahenpita said that the employment opportunities offered locally and globally in the apparel sector gives a higher income than some of the other sectors.

“The education time frame and cost in the apparel sector are very much less than other education streams and the returns when seeking employment are very much higher than what the youth and parents think. They are as lucrative as the ICT, travel and aviation sectors.”

They said that when the apparel industry was launched in 1986 the average basic pay was around USD 25 but today it has increased to between 160 -180. “This was the same scenario in countries such as Bangladesh where the starting salary of an apparel worker has increased from USD 20 in 1990 to around USD 120 today.”

In both countries there was a shift in the garment sector from catering to a mass market based on the quota system and migrating to a supply of a niche market.

“We saw the future emerging demand for the apparel sector both locally and globally and set up Garment Industry Management Institute in Narahenpita three decades ago and now offer apparel courses starting from six months to higher diplomas. Education qualifications and language barrier too are no drawbacks to joining this industry,” they said.

“When you pass out you are guaranteed a local job as leading apparel manufacturers are waiting to grab trained staff.”

The students at our institute can also do higher studies and then gain jobs globally for which we also do the matchmaking. “Today globally a qualified novice employee could get around USD 2,000 and then with experience could double it in around two years.” Today the stigma such as ‘Juki Kella’ pinned against the garment factory girls has disappeared and the apparel works job category is respected and also working conditions have improved by leaps and bounds.

The duo also said that the current export revenue drop in the apparel sector is temporary and is a common phenomenon faced by all apparel exporting countries due to the globe economic crisis. In China the apparel export revenue which was USD 158 billion had dropped to g USD 149 billion while in Bangladesh it had dropped from USD 33 billion to USD 28 billion.

“The ‘usual buying pattern’ is expected to continue when the ‘winter buying’ commences,” they said.