Second, many future high-quality jobs in the U.S. textile and apparel industry will be non-manufacturing in nature and supply-chain based. In a study that I conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Fashion Industry Association this May, around 80% of respondents, executives from leading U.S. fashion brands and apparel retailers, say they plan to hire more employees in the next five years. Interestingly, respondents suggest that four types of positions — supply chain specialists, data scientists, sourcing specialists, and marketing analysts — will be the most in-demand, whereas companies are least likely to hire sewing machine operators and general management administrators in the same time frame. The contrasting demand for talent in various positions reflects business priorities of companies in the years ahead, along with the continuing structural readjustment of the U.S. textile and apparel industry.
Not only is the U.S. textile and apparel industry adapting to the 21st century, but it holds a promising future for America’s workforce, providing opportunities to students that span from design, merchandising, and marketing to sourcing and international trade.
Sheng Lu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware.
Follow him on Twitter @shenglu27.