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The Welsh fashion and textiles sector employs 10,000 people within 3,500 workplaces. The gross value added for the sector is estimated to stand at £200 million. Fashion and textiles sub-sectors account for the largest number of business and employment.

Workforce statistics:

  • 61% of the workforce is female.
  • 21% are self-employed with a further 24% working on a part-time basis.
  • 47% of the sector are aged over 45 years, many of whom hold key occupations and hard to replace skills.
  • 46% of the workforce is qualified at below NVQ level 2, whilst 27% hold an NVQ level 2 or above. This compares with 22% and 50% respectively for the wider Scottish workforce.

The majority of the workforce work within process, plant and machine operatives and elementary occupations.

Exports in textiles and apparel have been significant growth areas for Wales in which high value goods find both developed and developing markets to sell to.

Key drivers of skills demand are:

  • the growth of fast fashion and technical markets
  • the British style
  • adaptation to changing technology
  • the impact of migration
  • the image of the sector
  • the sustainability agenda

Hard-to-fill and skills shortage vacancies were more prevalent than reported at an all sector level in Wales. Shortages were reported in associate professional, skilled trades and operative occupations. Higher level skills issues were reported in design occupations, with the commercial and technical skills of graduate designers being identified as an issue.

Skills gaps are prevalent within the sector. Gaps were reported in a range of occupations predominantly in operative and elementary positions, but also shortages in managers, administrative and sales occupations.

Future skills priorities included: the recruitment and retention of able young people; improving sales and marketing skills; numeracy and literacy; and other basic skills.

South Wales employs the largest number of people within the sector with nearly half of all fashion and textiles employment being in this area. Nine in ten jobs within the textiles sector are located here. North Wales has a larger number of people employed within the apparel and sewn products sub-sector.

Source: Strategic Skills Assessment for the Fashion and Textiles Sector in Wales 2010