The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry – Report 2018

We are witnessing a rapid shift in the apparel industry — as consumer desires continue to change and become more sophisticated, retailers are coming under increased pressure. This is challenging companies to deliver product faster, cheaper and through more transparent and sustainable supply chains.

At the same time, our entry into the fourth industrial revolution is disrupting the business landscape—big data, advanced analytics, automation and machine learning are set to dramatically change how apparel businesses operate.
All of these shifts are requiring a radical evolution of the workforce. Consequently, organisations across the apparel industry are facing a rapidly changing context for skills training and the development of their workforce.

What steps are companies taking to ensure their workforce is fit for the future? We conducted our first global survey in autumn 2017 to understand the current sentiment around industry skills, to identify whether there is a gap and if there is one, what employers in the apparel industry are doing about it. We surveyed executives, HR leaders, industry practitioners and employees across the value chain.

We found that while businesses in other industries are concerned about the rise of automation and the technological displacement of workers, in our industry, there is more of a concern about the perceived shortage of technical skills. Training is happening within companies, but it’s not enough to keep up with the lack of skilled workers and there are high dissatisfaction rates with the content and modes of training provided. Furthermore, even with overall concern, investment does not reflect the level of worry shown.

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