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Skill Formation Regimes in South Asia

A Comparative Study on the Path-Dependent Development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the Garment Industry


Markus Maurer

In the face of accelerated economic globalisation, many of the industries in economically less developed countries have become more technology-intensive. Skill formation processes, both inside and outside firms, are therefore changing. This study scrutinises such transformations by comparing – from the perspective of historical institutionalism – the skill formation regimes of the garment industries in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It sheds light on the differences between the trajectories of the in-firm skill formation regimes of the two countries, and reveals the important part that varying paths of educational development in both countries have played in shaping these trajectories. At the same time, the study shows how, in both countries, state-led skill formation regimes have been transformed not only by market forces and the growing importance of corporate business interests, but also by the social demand for educational credentials.


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PART B THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTEXT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GLOBAL TEXTILE AND GARMENT TRADE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TEXTILE TRADE UNTIL WORLD WAR II Production of textiles and garments has belonged to the most globalised trades for many centuries. Not only is the trade in raw materials and fin- ished goods marked by exchanges between a large number of economic actors in different parts of the world, but the flow of production tech- nology, capital and skills to manufacture yarn, fabric and garments is similarly global. Techniques of spinning, dyeing and weaving date back to Neolithic days, the first known textiles having been excavated in Çatal Höyük in southern Anatolia.189 Whereas technological innovations diffused throughout the world, production generally relied on locally available raw materials. In Europe, textile production was based on lin- en, leather or wool until the 19th century. However, since ancient times, there had always existed a trade in more luxurious raw materials, for in- stance, in Chinese silk. In the beginning of the second millennium, Eu- ropean traders started to import cotton from various parts of Asia and, after the beginning of the 16th century, from beyond the Atlantic.190 Cot- ton textiles became more popular with the imports of Indian cottons 189 John Peter Wilde, “Introduction”, in: The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, ed. by David Jenkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 9-29, in particular p. 10. 190 Serge Chassagne, Le coton et ses patrons: France, 1760-1840 (Paris: Ecole des Hautes Etudes...

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