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Bangladesh garment industry to recruit autistic workers

Business

Bangladesh garment industry to recruit autistic workers

By Simone Preuss

Aug 26, 2015

Bangladesh's RMG industry is once again making headline but this time, it is not about export figures, workers' wages or safety measures. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has taken on a very different cause - it is planning to help in recruiting autistic youths for the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector.

“Like others, autistic people also should have a better and respectable life. To achieve this, BGMEA wants to help them get jobs in the RMG sector and provide related training,” said BGMEA president Atiqul Islam. "We'll give them work, they give in return. This is not charity,” he stressed, adding: “Then we can utter ‘Made in Bangladesh’ with more pride. But it will be possible only when efforts are made together.”

Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and NDDs, urged those present at last Thursday's event "Capacity Building and Employment of Persons with Autism in the RMG Industry" at BGMEA headquarters in Dhaka to think how autistic persons could be turned into a workforce rather than recruiting one or two sporadically. “It’s not about giving one or two jobs,” she said, adding that the clothing industry’s slogan “made in Bangladesh with pride” would be a reality when there would be no one left behind.

The event organised by the apparel manufacturing and exporting industry lobby had brought together factory owners, parents of children with autism and government officials to raise awareness about the employability of autistic youths.

The RMG industry with its strict routines and repetitive tasks seems like a good match for workers with autism: “It’s not charity. They are honest, cannot lie. They are perfect. They are focused. They’ll do what they can. They can do non-stop similar work that other workers will not do. They follow routine strictly,” explained Sajida Rahman Danny, president of the Parents Forum for Differently Abled.

Danny added that they had even identified some areas where autistic workers could work "perfectly" like quality control, numbering, placing stickers, removing extra thread, collar pressing, button matching, poly packing and cleaning.

According to UN estimates, more than 80 percent of adults with autism are unemployed globally, though they have abilities. “They don't go to school after a certain age. They have to stay at home unless parents find a suitable job for them,” confirmed Danny.