Transforming the Quality of Workforce in the Textile and Apparel Industry Through Computational Thinking Education
Computational Thinking Education
The goal of introducing computational thinking education in a business setting is not just for technology adoption or invention but it is considered to be a vital skill for empowering employees to address problems critically and systematically. This chapter presents a case study of Esquel Group, a world leader in the textile and apparel sector, to leverage computational thinking (CT) in learning and education to lift staff competence. Esquel believes in the era of Industry 4.0, employees should
... embrace a new way of thinking by combining logical reasoning and computational power that would empower them with the ability to think independently. Therefore, the "You Can Code" campaign was initiated in 2015 to the staff at all levels with over 1,200 participants from 10 different locations in the first 10 months. By learning how to build a mobile application using MIT App Inventor, the problem-solving learning process is woven into the employees' minds on capacity building. They can learn how to decompose problems, synthesize ideas, and develop an algorithm to solve problems in a structural and creative way. The campaign plays a catalytic role to empower employees as confident users of technology with computational thinking ability and helps the company to nurture a culture of innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration. After the success of the first run, the company tried to further engage young colleagues to stimulate computational thinking and innovation. A series of more comprehensive App Inventor Workshops, including developing mobile apps with Internet of Things and Arduino, was introduced and implemented locally by the young generation. It shows innovation in learning and also demonstrates that Esquel is a nontraditional company which strives to make a difference. The textile and apparel industry has long been regarded as "traditional" and "oldfashioned". It is probably not an industry the new generation aspires to join. Founded in 1978, Esquel started as a shirt maker. Over the last 40 years, Esquel developed the capacity to weave innovative technologies into its people-centric culture. With key production bases established in strategic locations in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, and a network of branches in the US, Europe, and Asia, it offers a one-stop solution, from concept to rack. The annual sales turnover was US$1.3 billion in 2016. Esquel employs more than 57,000 diversified workforce globally, united under the corporate 5E culture-Ethics, Environment, Exploration, Excellence, and Education, and driven by the mission of "Fun People Serving Happy Customers". It operates with an aspiration of "Making a Difference" by creating a positive impact on the employees, communities, and environment. The key employee development strategy is to "groom people from within". As a nontraditional company in a traditional industry, Esquel encourages and empowers employees to innovate and to challenge the status quo by placing great emphasis on learning and people development in facilitating employees to transform and upgrade.