Design and Product Development

Product Development Competencies: Analysis of Employer Needs

  • Arienne McCracken (Iowa State University)
  • Chunhui Xiang (Iowa State University)
  • Ellen Carol McKinney orcid logo (Iowa State University)
  • Ling Zhang (Iowa State University)
  • Rachel Eike orcid logo (Iowa State University)
  • Sarah Bennett (Iowa State University)


As changes occur in the apparel industry, academicians of apparel and textile programs are challenged with the task of preparing students to perform in new, multifaceted, product development positions. To develop a list of the competencies necessary for contemporary careers in apparel product development and innovation, a job search was conducted on a sampling of websites. Qualitative content analysis was performed on the position descriptions yielded by this search. Position descriptions ranged from entry-level to those requiring ten or more years of experience in industry. Content analysis yielded 18 themes that contained data from more than one position description. As a gap in the literature exists related to the skills and competencies required for apparel product developers, this research project served as an initial step in addressing this deficiency. Findings of this study also serve as a potential guide for other programs offering an apparel product development degree or concentration.

Keywords: industry, product development, employer needs, careers

How to Cite:

McCracken, A. & Xiang, C. & McKinney, E. C. & Zhang, L. & Eike, R. & Bennett, S., (2019) “Product Development Competencies: Analysis of Employer Needs”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 76(1). doi:

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Published on
15 Dec 2019