Los Angeles Apparel

A shortage of skilled labor in fashion retailing and manufacturing is creating a “war for talent,” according to a recent survey of industry managers by Alvanon.

The global survey found that 62 percent of respondents are “struggling to fill skilled roles” across the supply chain and, as a result, “fashion retailers, brands, manufacturers and vendors face a shortage of workers with key, specialized skills.”

Alvanon partnered with more than a dozen apparel firms to poll industry “professionals throughout the fashion industry on the skills gaps, learning and talent development needs within the apparel sector,” the company said. “The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2018” report was derived from the perspectives of 642 c-level executives, h.r. managers and employees across the supply chain.

Aside from revealing a struggle to fill skilled positions, authors of the report said the data further shows “that respondents are largely unhappy with the training being provided, and 30 percent are actively dissatisfied.”

Sarah McConnell Hays, sourcing manager at childrenswear retailer Carter’s, said in a statement about the report that the struggle is like an ongoing battle. “We are in a war for talent,” Hays said.

Researchers at Alvanon said the report suggests that the “imperatives for business now include figuring out how to engage employees and provide professional development, or risk losing them.”

Janice Wang, chief executive officer of Alvanon, said as the apparel industry “begins to recognize and implement digitalization as a way of delivering on speed, customization and transparency, it is revealing gaps in the specialized skills set of its workforce.” Wang said the survey findings “conclude that failure to respond to skill shortages will result in the generalization of poor market practices and adversely impact business performance across the supply chain.”

The survey also showed that 91 percent of managers “see training as important for the professional development of their employees, while 88 percent of those surveyed said it was important for maintaining job satisfaction.”

Wang said 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.”

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