Currently, Sri Lanka accounts for around 1% of the global apparel export market share, and the Sri Lankan apparel sector is well positioned to meet the industry’s $8 billion target. export earnings by 2025. With these targets in sight, Sri Lankan garments will have very high demands for skilled technicians, especially in the field of mechatronics, where the industry is moving towards automations of advanced factory.
In order to meet the demand for skilled labor in the garment sector, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH – Vocational Training Project in Sri Lanka on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic and Development (BMZ) has partnered with Sri Lanka German Technical Institute (SLGTI) and MAS Holdings (Pvt) Ltd to launch NVQ Level 5 Automation Technician course to provide advanced theoretical and practical training for young people to work with the latest state-of-the-art machinery.
Prior to the start of the training, a train-the-trainer (ToT) course was organized for the in-company trainers at MAS to prepare and structure the two-year training programme. Corporate trainers who successfully completed the training received their certificates at the premises of MAS Intimates in Ratmalana.
Speaking at the certificate ceremony, SLGTI and CGTTI President Vinod Moonesinghe said, “So far, we have been following 19th century training practices in technical field work. . It’s always been about people going to technical colleges, learning theoretically, learning by doing, and then being thrown into industry. Recently, we discovered that this model was very lacking. We are taking a whole new trajectory in training. We need to train people specifically for the jobs they will do in the industry. Only then can we approach the job market and bring the best overall training results,” Mr. Moonesinghe said.
Project Manager, Vocational Training Project Sri Lanka (VTSL), Mathis Hemberger said: “The philosophy of German engagement has always been to foster cooperative training where not only TVET sector training institutes produce the right skills, but the private sector and TVET institutes jointly take responsibility and add value. This partnership that exists between SLGTI, MAS and GIZ is a leading example where the public sector, private sector and development partners come together, join forces and create something that really adds value”.
The cooperative training approach based on the German dual system combines the advantages of two modes of training (theory and industrial on-the-job training (OJT) in an integrated and coordinated process, with an emphasis on the practical skills required In this type of training, MAS as an industrial partner and SLGTI as a public partner will share their expertise, facilities and other specialized resources and establish a link between professional training and industry.
Director-Innovation, MAS Intimates, Dr Chandika Wickramatillake said: “There is huge demand in MAS. We are looking to move from making traditional clothes to making smart and technologically advanced clothes. We have very experienced mechanics and over the past five years we have invested heavily in engineers. However, we found that there is still a gap between mechanics and engineers, which creates a need for technicians. This is the perfect time as we seek to build the capacity of our people in our factories. MAS is an international company with a growing global presence. These students who come from our villages will be exposed to the latest technologies and developments in garment manufacturing and we must support them. The trainers who have received the certificates now have a major role to play in keeping up with technological developments, in learning and disseminating their learning to these students. We see a lot of communication issues as the students come from rural areas,” said Dr Wickramatillake.