2020 The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry

After the success of our global 2018 State of Skills Survey, we set out again this year to take the pulse of the fashion industry. Be- fore we could finish, our research was interrupted by life-changing world events with the onset of COVID and its ongoing effects.

At MOTIF, we thought long and hard about how to translate our research results within the context of what is happening in our daily lives and industry challenges. Our conclusion is that the fundamentals don’t change, and if anything, the findings of the survey we conducted are only amplified by the new reality.

The extreme pressure to deliver better, faster, more sustainable fashion to a diverse consumer demographic, demands that companies embrace the innovations and skill sets that will help them succeed.

The shockwaves sent through the industry by COVID-19 shine a spotlight on what we have been saying for years. The industry has to change. We can talk about digitisation, we can talk about shorter and sustainable supply chains but what we really need is to be future-oriented in our view of people and skills. Underpinning all of this change is a very human element, no matter what level of automation descends on the value chain. As companies, we need to rethink the pipelines of talent and build cultures of continual learning within organisations.

Companies will have to emerge from this leaner and smarter in order to survive. There needs to be a rethink around how skills are distributed across the organisation and in many cases, there will be increased pressure on employees to be more multifaceted in their skill sets. We will always need the foundational technical skills but then will need to layer on creative thinking and analytical skills in order for our supply chains to be more collaborative and transparent.

Over the last 10 years, it has slowly become apparent that as an industry we need a new blend of skills (that involve data, soft- ware, collaboration) and that we have a shortage of people with production floor experience. That’s why MOTIF was born, to provide a digital platform for the industry to create, share and nurture best practices and knowledge for professionals.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alvanon, our leading sponsor and partner as well as the global list of indus- try associations that stood behind MOTIF and supported our research initiative. This list of local, regional and international associations who helped spread the word with their members is testament to the fact that skills are an industry-wide focus and concern.

Catherine Cole