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MOTIF global skills survey identifies knowledge gaps in fashion industry

Posted October 28, 2020


NEW YORK – Leading global fashion e-learning platform MOTIF, in collaboration with Alvanon, has partnered with 19 leading apparel organizations to conduct a global skills survey to take the pulse of the fashion industry and assess the level of investment in skills by apparel professionals and companies.


The results are revealed in “The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2020” special report, that represents the views of 900 apparel professionals from across the value chain.


While there is clearly still a need for strong fundamental skills (such as apparel costing, sourcing, supply chain management, etc.) one key finding is the perceived gap in “future” skills that combine 3D digitalization and data skills with technical skills.




Business priorities are changing

  • Employee training and skill development is still one of the top two business issues

  • Pre-COVID – both sustainability and strategic sourcing jumped to the top in 2019/2020. Post COVID – digital creation skills have come to the top of the list


To hire or upskill?

  • Keeping up with technology and latest business trends is the top motivator; with employee satisfaction and engagement close behind

  • In the last 12 months, more large companies have turned to upskilling their workforce while more smaller and mid-sized companies are looking to hire in new skills


High levels of satisfaction are elusive

  • 66% express some sort of dissatisfaction with the training they receive 

  • Biggest levels of dissatisfaction are at the junior levels; 13% difference with management


There is a disconnect

  • 77% of executives feel employees do not proactively take courses

  • 44% say employees only take courses when they are forced to

  • Yet, when junior employees were asked, 71% said they proactively take courses


For businesses working to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in new skills will be crucial given rising economic pressures, new customer expectations and behaviors and a challenging and uncertain retail environment. With MOTIF’s “State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2020” report finding new competencies lay around being able to manage digital libraries, data science skills, virtual product sampling and of course proficiency in using the tools themselves.


“As an industry we need change agents throughout organizations – individuals, teams, executives who are able to reimagine roles and processes and work differently,” said Catherine Cole, CEO of MOTIF. “This may be a disruptive process. To do that, we need people with a new blend of skills. This is the time to reimagine and reinvent roles – within companies and within careers.”


Now in its second iteration, the survey is part of MOTIF’s ongoing efforts to address the training and continual learning needs of the apparel industry worldwide. This report aims to highlight how upskilling workforces and an investment in continual learning programs are imperatives to continued success. As companies transition into a digital way of working, they must also support their existing workforces and foster a ‘learning mentality’ across their people and teams.


Click here to download a free copy of “The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2020,” MOTIF’s in-depth report on the skills gap, focusing on recruiting trends, the value of continual learning, sharing knowledge and opportunities impacting talent development, training and retention.


Summary statistics on respondents:


  • Total Respondents: 923

  • Respondents Breakdown: Founder/Top Management (26%), Department Head/Middle Management (45%), Junior and Associate Levels (21%) and Academia/Others (8%)

  • Coverage Across Region: North America (42%), South America (16%), Europe (19%), Asia (21%)

  • By Company Revenue: Less than 50 Million USD (34%), Over 50 Million USD (24%)

  • By Company Type**: Brand (35%), Retailer (29%), Factory/Manufacturer (26%), Wholesaler/B2B (15%)


Supporting organizations


  • ABIT (The Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association)

  • American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)

  • Americas Apparel Producers Network

  • Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI)

  • Australian Fashion Council (AFC)

  • California Fashion Association (CFA)

  • Canadian Apparel Federation

  • Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI)

  • EURATEX - European Apparel and Textile Confederation

  • International Apparel Federation (IAF)

  • Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA)

  • International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA)

  • North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors (NAUMD)

  • Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide (PCIAW®)

  • Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC)

  • SPESA (Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas)

  • TaFF (Textile and Fashion Federation)

  • Textile+Mode (The Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry)

  • The Textile Institute


**Respondents could select more than one category


Sources: MOTIF and Alvanon

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