The next Business Beyond Borders matchmaking event for SMEs and Clusters is fast approaching – have you already registered your company for our sessions at Texworld Paris? The event will focus on enterprises operating in the textile, clothing and apparel sector and, as such, our weekly Road to Paris series seeks to provide an overview of the main challenges and opportunities in this sector. This week, we take stock of skills situation in the textile and apparel industry.
Like several other industries, the Textile, Clothing, Leather and Footwear sector is going through a renaissance in Europe. Some of the identified future challenges for the sector include logistics, technology, legislation and sustainability. Skill mismatch, however, is perhaps the most pressing hurdle faced by this industry.
Before focusing on this issue of skill mismatch, one must recognise the textile & clothing sector’s importance in national and European economies. As reported by the European Skills Council, the sector employs over 2 million people, of which many are women (image 1).
European Sector Skills Council Textile Clothing Leather Footwear, Report, 2014, p. 10.
According to the European Commission findings, from 2025 onwards “5 times more jobs are to be opened for highly-qualified employees than for low-qualified employees”. This is a call not only to aspiring workers, but also to governments and educational institutions, to take part in the development of skills and broadening education to mitigate skills mismatch.
EC, A New Skills Agenda for Europe Skills Mismatches at Sectoral Level, 2017, p. 2.
The lack of appeal in this sector to young people is one of the most pressing challenges. The European Commission believes this can be changed and is currently working to address this issue. A detailed blueprint of the situation with wide data is being drafted in order to provide accurate counselling and take action towards improving the sector’s performance.
Better sectoral presence through efficient representation, improving readiness to embrace technological changes, improving the sector’s appeal to younger generations and joint efforts between trade associations, companies and government are key towards reducing and preventing skill mismatch issues. Furthermore, other concrete actions are already being taken: for example, “a leather craft worker may specialise in one or multiple parts of the production process”.
Skills development is ultimately beneficial to workers, companies, the sector in general, schools and universities, and governments. It is, therefore, paramount, to look at it as an opportunity for the growth of the textile and clothing industry in particular and of the EU economy in general.
 European Sector Skills Council Textile Clothing Leather Footwear, Report, 2014.
 European Sector Skills Council Textile Clothing Leather Footwear, Report, 2014, p. 97.
 EC, A New Skills Agenda for Europe Skills Mismatches at Sectoral Level, 2017, p. 2.
 EC, A New Skills Agenda for Europe Skills Mismatches at Sectoral Level, 2017.