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New global survey highlights unprecedented skills crisis in fashion industry

Big fashion retailers, brands, manufacturers and vendors face a shortage of workers with key, specialised skills, according to new survey data from Alvanon

New York – October 4, 2018 – Global fashion innovation company Alvanon has partnered with 13 leading apparel organizations* to survey professionals throughout the fashion industry on the skills gaps, learning and talent development needs within the apparel sector. The results are revealed in ‘The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2018’ special report, that represents the views of 642 executives, HR leaders, industry practitioners and employees across the international supply chain.

According to the survey report, one of the biggest issues facing brands and vendors is hiring people with the right skills, with 62% of respondents saying they are struggling to fill certain positions. The data further shows that respondents are largely unhappy with the training being provided, and 30% are actively dissatisfied.

Some businesses are likening hiring to a battle, with Sarah McConnell Hays, sourcing manager at childrenswear retailer Carter’s saying: “We are in a war for talent.” The report states that the imperatives for business now include figuring out how to engage employees and provide professional development, or risk losing them.

“As the apparel industry begins to recognise and implement digitalisation as a way of delivering on speed, customisation and transparency, it is revealing gaps in the specialized skills set of its workforce,” explained Janice Wang, CEO of Alvanon. “Our survey findings conclude that failure to respond to skill shortages will result in the generalisation of poor market practices and adversely impact business performance across the supply chain.”

She added, “Improving the apparel industry by upping its skills is, ultimately, a collective responsibility shared between all players in the value chain and the individual professionals themselves. This survey clearly shows where we need to start and that we need to start immediately.”

The survey is part of Alvanon’s ongoing efforts to address the training and development needs of the apparel industry worldwide. This report aims to highlight labour force challenges faced by the industry and prompt readers to question their own company’s state of affairs in terms of training and strategy or lack of it. The 642 respondents comprised one-third of workers from North America, one-third Asia Pacific, one-fourth Central & South America, the rest from Europe and others.

Click here to download a free copy of ‘The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2018’, Alvanon’s in-depth report on the skills required to propel the apparel industry forward in 2018, focusing on the themes, issues and opportunities impacting talent development, training and retention.