Apprenticeships – addressing the skills gap in the industry

How Skillset is helping companies to place new recruits in the fashion & textiles sector

Apprenticeships in clothing and textilesThe amount of skilled craftsman left in the clothing and textiles industry is one of the main concerns of many of the British brands and designers that Make it British speaks to. Finding young people to come into the industry and showing them that it can be a worthwhile and rewarding career is not the easiest of tasks either.

Fox Brothers, the luxury woollen manufacturers in Somerset, said it took over a year to find the right person to employ as an apprentice in their mill. They now have two full time apprentices and the scheme is working well, ensuring that Fox has a new generation of staff to take the company into the future.

And when a group of 12 traditional rivals in Scottish knitwear realised that they stood to lose the most experienced 10% of their 2,000- plus workforce to retirement over the next five years, they banded together to develop an apprenticeship programme to help save their businesses from a dearth of skilled craftsman in the future. Because the knitting industry now requires very specialist and technical skills, far removed from the traditional perception of the boring repetitive labour that is required to work in a mill, the companies joined forces with Skillset, the sector skills council for the creative industries, in order to develop their apprenticeship programme and change the perception of young people about what it is like to work in manufacturing.

Skillset is working with many other companies, not just in Scotland, but throughout the UK’s fashion and textiles industries, to design and implement apprenticeships for UK manufacturers. They help  provide entrants into the industry with the technical skills required to take manufacturing forward for future generations. Their Apprenticeship in Fashion and Textiles covers technical roles in printing and dyeing, pattern cutting and grading, as well as machinist and dressmaking positions – a valuable resource to those manufacturers like the Scottish knitwear companies that have an ageing workforce that will need to be replaced in the near future.

If you would like to find out more about the work that Skillset are doing, or have a company that would like to take on an apprentice, you can find further details on the Skillset website.