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'Invest in training despite economic crisis' - Textile training chief
22
Oct '08
A textile training chief in Huddersfield has welcomed a multi-million pound boost for the fashion and textile industry – and urged firms to continue investing in training despite the economic crisis.

The Government has announced a three-year, £24.5m programme to tackle skills shortages in the sector and build up a world-class workforce.

It aims to help the fashion and textiles sector – which contributes about £10bn a year to the UK economy – recruit the 34,000 workers it will need over the next five years and enable it to compete in profitable markets as well as technical textile development.

The new “compact” between the Government, the universities, the Learning and Skills Council and textile sector skills council Skill-Fast UK aims to help the industry developing craft and technical skills through the Government's Train to Gain programme and National Apprenticeships.

The new funding is expected to help at least 1,500 firms and enable more than 10,000 employees to gain a recognised vocational qualification. It also aims to recruit 500 apprentices in areas not currently covered in the sector – more than five times the existing number.

Bill Macbeth, managing director of the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield, said: “This compact has the potential to help more companies invest in the skills of their people.

“Government plans to expand the apprenticeship programme and provide funds for all workers to achieve a vocational qualification are a major step forward in ensuring our industry has the skills needed to complete on the world stage.”

But he stressed: “In an economic downturn, the first thing companies do is to cut training investment. That would be a critical mistake to make because there has never been more money available to help firms invest in their people. Those firms that do invest will be the ones to gain in the future.”

Skills Minister Lord Young said: “The Government values the important contribution the fashion and textiles industry makes to our national life and is committed to working closely with the sector to help it to attract, train and retain quality staff.

“This compact will ensure that employers will have access to flexible, world-class training, tailored to the specific needs of their business, and delivered when and where they need it.”

Linda Florance, chief executive of Skillfast-UK, said: “Our figures show that the annual spend from the public purse invested £110m in training for this sector, yet only £1m of this went into training in the workplace – which is the training employers say is most effective.

“This deal represents a dramatic increase in Government support for skills in the sector but, more importantly, it puts the investment where it can make the most difference.”

Government investment in Train to Gain will rise to more than £1bn by 2010-11 – supporting more than 800,000 learners to improve their skills and gain new qualifications.

Textile Centre of Excellence

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