Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear sector

A global industry facing new challenges

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear sectors (TCF) are one of the most globalized sectors, providing employment opportunities to more than 60 million workers worldwide. The sectors are a large source of formal employment in the developing world. Due to the scale and the profile of workers employed, the sector offers great potential to contribute significantly to economic development.

The sector is composed predominantly of unskilled workers, young women, a large number of internal migrants, workers on short-term contracts. The sector is also characterized by low levels of trade union representation and. In some countries, garment manufacturing may be one of the only opportunities to move into the formal sector, and frequently one of the few jobs considered acceptable for women. Additionally, the sector remains among the most labour-intensive industries, despite advances in technology and workplace practices.

Owing to its global nature, the sector faces major issues such as cost competitiveness, product innovation and how to compete in an increasingly global market. Such factors make the sector highly vulnerable, impacting the social conditions of millions of workers whose livelihoods depend on it.