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Viewpoint | November 2015

Frog in a Drying Pond!

A pre-ITMA press meet in Switzerland I attended recently ended with a very interesting panel discussion on two issues: Today’s technology status quo and the menace of talent exodus in textile industry. The references pertained to the Swiss textile machinery industry, but I found to my surprise it reflected the sentiments of our own industry. Have the Swiss textile technologies reached a saturation level that the industry seems to have stopped digging at research, queried the SWISSMEM chief, Ernesto Mauro. He likened the industry to a frog sitting in a drying pond, pondering over whether to quit the pond seeking new avenues or thinking of refilling the vanishing water! Is the industry only bothered about competition and the bottom line that the spirit of invention is slowly evaporating? May be the ITMA 2015, where the central theme is “Master the Art of Sustainable Innovation,” will provide an answer.

The second issue is about dearth of technically qualified staff. According to a D&B Study, while 86 per cent of top managers in Chinese firms are at least graduates, in large chunk of Indian firms (63 per cent) the top managers are not even graduates. Other findings include: While India has the majority of firms engaged in R&D, Indian firms on an average spend negligible amount on R&D. India is again lagging behind China & Vietnam on training & development parameters by a huge margin. While nearly 84 per cent of Chinese firms offer training in office, in India only 12 per cent of firms offer similar facility. In India, only 6 per cent of employees receive formal training as compared to 37 per cent in China. This impacts the overall productivity as well as quality of the output. It is said that most of the textile engineering students opt for software jobs unrelated to textiles because of heavier pay packet. Swiss industry has the same problem, says SWISSMEM chief, who wants the leaders to make the industry “more sexy” to attract talents! Lastly, to say the least, these two issues --R&D and technical talent -- are hugely interconnected.

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