Sixty-five per cent of employers working in the West Midlands' clothing, footwear and textile sector, are facing a skills time-bomb.
They are struggling to find new recruits with the right skills, qualifications or experience for the job.
As the Sector Skills Council for clothing, footwear and textile-related businesses, Skillfast- UK interviewed nearly 500 employers - including 40 from the West Midlands - as part of its "Big Push on Skills" campaign to lobby MPs and government agencies into taking action.
It found that 65 per cent of West Midlands' employers agreed there is a shortage of recruits with the right skills, qualifications or experience in certain occupational areas including technical, design and craft-related roles.
This regional shortage compares to a national average of 69 per cent.
Over 20 per cent of employers nationwide feel that a lack of appropriately skilled staff is preventing them from developing new products and entering new markets. Nearly 35 per cent have found it hard to recruit appropriately skilled school leavers or graduates, highlighting many employers' frustration with vocational education in school.
Over recent years, the clothing, footwear and textile industry has moved from high-to- low volume, as it has begun to concentrate on producing high-quality goods.
Research from Experian also suggests that productivity within the industry has continually increased over the past six years, with the sector now contributing £11.6 billion to the UK economy each year. However, according to Skillfast-UK, these changes have also meant employees need to be more flexible and skilled than before.
Chief executive of Skillfast-UK, Linda Florance, said: "Many employers are already exploiting the global marketplace, but are being prevented from taking their business forward, because they struggle to recruit suitable employees.
"Having identified their key issues and concerns, we are committed to taking appropriate action to overcome them.
"Today's industry is hightech and requires skilled personnel." n Women, who tend to predominate in the clothing sector, earn an average of 27 per cent less than their male colleagues, research claims.
Men receive average annual salaries of £30,948, while women lag behind, earning just £23,977 on average each year, according to salary comparison site PayFinder.com.
There is also evidence that the gender pay divide is getting worse, as the gap between men's and women's pay has increased by three per cent during the past year.