Jefferson, A.M., Power, Jess and Rowe, H. (2012) Enhancing the employability of fashion students through the use of 3D CAD. In: Fashion Beyond Borders 14th Annual Conference of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes IFFTI, 17-23 March 2012, Jaipur, India. (Unpublished)

The textile and apparel industry has one of the longest and most intricate supply chains within manufacturing. Advancement in technology has facilitated its globalisation, enabling companies to span geographical borders. This has led to new methods of communication using electronic data formats. Throughout the latter part of the 20th Century, 2D CAD technology established itself as an invaluable tool within design and product development. More recently 3D virtual simulation software has made small but significant steps within this market. The technological revolution has opened significant opportunities for those forward thinking companies that are beginning to utilise 3D software. This advanced technology requires designers with unique skill sets. This paper investigates the skills required by fashion graduates from an industry perspective.
To reflect current industrial working practices, it is essential for educational establishments to incorporate technologies that will enhance the employability of graduates. This study developed an adapted action research model based on the work of Kurt Lewin, which reviewed the learning and teaching of 3D CAD within higher education. It encompassed the selection of 3D CAD software development, analysis of industry requirements, and the implementation of 3D CAD into the learning and teaching of a selection of fashion students over a three year period. Six interviews were undertaken with industrial design and product development specialists to determine: current working practices, opinions of virtual 3D software and graduate skill requirements.
It was found that the companies had similar working practices independent of the software utilised within their product development process. The companies which employed 3D CAD software considered further developments were required before the technology could be fully integrated. Further to this it was concluded that it was beneficial for graduates to be furnished with knowledge of emerging technologies which reflect industry and enhance their employability skills.

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