The garment factories that have trained workers have seen a productivity rise by 5 percent, according to a survey of the International Finance Corporation released yesterday.
The trained female operators of the factories were also promoted to the posts of supervisors for their efficiency gained from the trainings, it showed.
The study report -- Cutting through the Cloth Ceiling -- prepared by the IFC in collaboration with the Japanese government was released at a discussion at Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden.
The IFC trained 144 female sewing operators and their mid-level managers in 28 factories in collaboration with Better Work Bangladesh and the Innovations for Poverty Action in 2016-17.
Out of the 144 trainees who completed the programme, 92 were offered a promotion with an increase in salary within weeks of completing the training and 60 percent of them have accepted the offer, said the study.
Everybody received two months' training. The IFC provided the Work-Progression and Productivity Toolkit (WPT) to female sewing operators with five days of classroom training in the technical skills required to supervise a production line.
They were also given four days' of soft skills training on leadership, communications, and how to be an effective supervisor. The trainees had to put the lessons to use during an eight-week on-the-job training.
“The trainees were promoted to line supervisors and line assistant supervisors,”said Anaise Williams of the University of Oxford who along with her colleague Prof Christopher Woodruff led the study. About 2,000 people, including mid to top-level managers of the factories were interviewed during the survey between December 2016 and January 2018.
The number of female supervisors in the participating factories increased from an average of 5.22 percent before the training to 11.86 percent after the training, said the study.
“The training taught me how to speak to people at different levels, how to behave as a professional, and how to keep track of my work and calculate production and efficiency in an organised way,” said Popy Aktar, who is now a sewing line supervisor at Sparrow Apparels Ltd.
Wendy Werner, country manager of the IFC Bangladesh, said research showed that training increases line efficiency and benefits both the female supervisors and the factories that promote them.
“If scaled-up in more factories, it has the potential to overturn the industry's blind spot when it comes to career progression opportunities for women.”
Faruque Hassan, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said in the early days of the garment sector in 1980s, the participation of females in the national workforce was only 8 percent and now it stands at more than 34 percent.