Representatives from four garment factories gathered in late March 2014 for a two-day conference with CARE to reflect upon the successes of the Gap Inc. funded P.A.C.E. project and identify ways to improve this further. P.A.C.E. – which stands for Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement – aims to bring about positive change in the lives of female garments workers by providing them with valuable skills to improve their daily lives and careers.
The P.A.C.E. project selects trainers within these factories from among the factory staff and provides them with training so they can deliver short life skills sessions to their peers. Sessions cover many topics designed for women’s development, including financial literacy, problem solving and time management, living away from home in the city, health and nutrition. These all contribute to improved well-being among garment workers by helping them take steps to reduce the health problems they experience, improving their ability to make informed decisions, and assisting them with managing their earnings so they can set aside savings for their future.
With factory management, trainers, CARE staff and Gap Inc. representatives in attendance, the event brought together trainers from all four factories. This allowed them to work together to improve the training they offer by considering the challenges they face when organising sessions and discussing ideas for how to overcome these.
Problems identified included difficulties with session management, such as shy participants struggling to engage with trainers or people being late. CARE staff helped suggest solutions such as following up with participants beforehand to ensure sessions have good levels of attendance and participants arrive on time. The event also included time for everyone to learn new energiser games which they can use to encourage people to engage with the messages, ensuring that training sessions will become even more effective.
Since factories started focusing on the well-being of their workers through CARE’s project, they have seen positive changes such as garment workers being more punctual and productive as they are now able to prioritise tasks more effectively. Helping factory management to see the benefit of contributing to the personal development of their workers is key to the success of the project, as this encourages them think more about their workers’ well-being and begin to implement them of their own accord.
The project is also benefiting the development of factory trainers, who mentioned how much they appreciated the close support from CARE staff. This has not only focused on their understanding of the training topics but also included personal support which has improved their confidence. The feedback they provided through the conference will allow CARE to make further improvements to their training of factory representatives so that garment factory workers can continue to gain skills to improve their prospects in the future.
Introduced in seven countries in which Gap Inc. operates, CARE Cambodia began implementing the P.A.C.E. program at the Bright Sky Pty. Ltd. factory in Phnom Penh in 2008. Further details of the P.A.C.E. project can be found here.
Read more about the impact of the P.A.C.E. project on one young woman’s life >