Measuring skills and labour productivity in the garment sector

Project Active from to Firms and Trade

The Ministry of Commerce has requested research on productivity in the garment sector. This project develops methods to measure skills and productivity in relation to specific outcomes like wages, revenues, and growth.

The Ministry of Commerce in Myanmar requested research on garment sector productivity. This project will develop methods to measure labour productivity and skills of garment sector workers.

Productivity or “skill” of a worker can be measured by the quantity of products produced, per time, given the capital (for example machinery/ equipment). It is widely believed that skills explain various key economic outcomes such as wages, firm revenues, and sustainable industry growth. Since skills can be upgraded with training, learning about this relationship can implicate policies.

Measuring and comparing skills across workers, firms and countries can be difficult due to differences in task complexity and types of work. The garment sector was chosen due to similar machines and operations across the industry.

A survey instrument has been developed originally testing a small group of workers. Simultaneously, a group of workers will be in a laboratory with sewing machines to test the validity of the survey. The next step is measuring the skills of 1,000 to 1,500 garment workers within two areas: workers with the Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar and randomly sampled workers from participating factories from the firm side. The aim is to develop a method to extend this study, comparing the skills of workers producing the same brands and products to other countries.