Addressing the skills shortage of computer-aided design pattern-making in the KwaZulu-Natal clothing industry
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Over the past 20 years, it has become necessary for South African clothing companies to raise their operational standards to keep up with international competitiveness. Consequently, it was necessary for companies to invest in technology to improve turnaround time, a case in point being computer-aided design (CAD) pattern-making technology. However, currently, a skills shortage exists in the area of trained CAD pattern-makers. Therefore, the intention of this study was to address the skills shortage of CAD pattern- makers in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) clothing industry. A concurrent-nested mixed-methods research method was carried out within a constructivist worldview. These methods were used to, firstly, establish what skills are necessary for CAD pattern-making, and, secondly, to identify the reasons for the skills shortage of CAD pattern-makers in the KZN clothing industry. Different role players from the clothing industry participated in the study. The participants indicated that CAD pattern-making requires a diverse set of skills, which they ranked in order of importance. These skills can now be used as a guide by lecturers, trainers and clothing companies to identify individuals with the required potential to be trained as CAD pattern-makers. The reasons identified by the industry participants for the skills shortage of CAD pattern-makers, needs to be addressed through education, training and remuneration. Since companies have purchased the necessary CAD software, without skilled pattern-makers, the system is underutilized, thereby affecting their profitability and costing the companies reduced profit margins.