Technical skill, industry knowledge and experience, and interpersonal skill competencies for fashion design careers: A comparison of perspectives between fashion industry professionals and fashion educators
In updating fashion and apparel related design programs, many educators are striving to address the perspective of the fashion industry to obtain the career-specific skill and knowledge requirements sought by employers when hiring college or university graduates. Identifying such competencies from the view of fashion industry professionals as well as fashion educators will be critical to make accurate and timely curriculum decisions. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine and compare perception differences between fashion educators and fashion industry professionals regarding the necessary technical skills, industry knowledge and experience, and interpersonal skills, a fashion design college or university graduate should have in order to acquire an entry-level design position in the fashion industry.
Data was collected from 390 participants consisting of 171 Fashion Industry Professionals and 219 Fashion Educators. Data was obtained through responses to a self-administered, Web-based questionnaire The study questionnaire contained competencies in three areas of Technical Skills, Industry Knowledge and Experience, and Interpersonal Skills. The research instrument consisted of two versions differing only in the demographics gathered for each participant group.
Competencies were rated by two participant groups -- Fashion Industry Professionals and Fashion Educators, whose perceived importance ratings differed in 110 of 112 total competencies. Overall, Interpersonal Skills were rated more important than Technical Skills or Industry Knowledge and Experience by both groups Fashion Educators had significantly higher importance ratings than Fashion Industry Professionals in all three competency categories. In the Technical Skills category, Fashion Industry Professionals reported design skills as most important while Fashion Educators reported drawing skills most important. In the Industry Knowledge and Experience category, Fashion Industry Professionals reported experiential learning most important, with art/design knowledge highest for Fashion Educators. In the Interpersonal Skills category, Fashion Industry Professionals reported character as most important, with teamwork highest for Fashion Educators. Differences can be utilized by educators to revise and update programs, preparing students for the changing needs of the industry. Replication of the study should be made periodically to reflect fast changing fashion industry needs and conduct continuous program quality improvements.