Growing awareness of provenance, quality, supply chain transparency, flexibility and speed to market is breathing new life into the UK manufacturing industry, which suffered for so many years as companies chased low-cost labour around the world. That is now changing.
Now new companies are entering the industry, responding to demand for fashion and textiles made here in the UK, while heritage companies have reinvented themselves to compete on a global stage.
Changing consumer behaviour is drastically reshaping the industry and also opening up opportunities for brands to reach their customers, for new questions to be asked around sustainability and how products are made. There is still a long way to go but UKFT is uniting the industry to address these challenges.
In just over two years as Sector Skills Body for the industry, UKFT has consulted with businesses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to assess what the key skills and training priorities are and is now working to address them.
UKFT has created a new portfolio of apprenticeships, reviewed and updated a series of National Occupational Standards, and developed a new Scottish Vocational Qualification for bespoke cutting and tailoring.
This year it will be stepping up its skills activity, with some really exciting projects coming on stream to help promote careers in the industry and ensure design graduate from UK universities leave with a better understanding of how to work with our UK manufacturing industry.
UKFT will also deliver new apprenticeships for roles including knitting technician and materials cutter, bringing the total number of fashion and textile-specific apprenticeships available in England to 16.
Industrial sewing skills are in demand. Last year, saw UKFT develop its own ‘train the sewing machinist trainer’ course which has been successfully delivered at a major UK brand. It plans to roll this out to other companies throughout the year.
UKFT will continue to work closely with the UK manufacturers to help raise the profile of this sector and is working on an ambitious project to develop a leather making hub in London.
UKFT will also be highlighting the strength of the manufacturing sector to overseas designers, brands and retailers through the relaunched ‘Lets Make It Here’ database, available in seven different languages including Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, French, Spanish and Italian.
The company will once again be able to offer textile companies training grants to help meet the costs of training young textile technicians to ensure our industry can continue to thrive.
UKFT will continue to work closely with the industry to help companies grow their exports to the EU and the rest of the world. As well as taking hundreds of companies to the key fashion and textile shows and distributing export grants, UKFT will also be undertaking a new project to promote the fantastic capabilities of UK textile manufactures at the key textile trade shows of Première Vision, Milano Unica and Intertextile Shanghai.
Last year saw Textiles Scotland become part of UKFT and this year UKFT will continue to work closely with the industry in Scotland by launching a Scottish Fashion & Textiles Export Strategy and a Scottish Skills Strategy, together with an increased focus on innovation. UKFT will also continue to develop its work in Wales and Northern Ireland helping to maintain its position as the largest network of fashion and textile businesses in the UK.
To ensure new businesses can enter, grow and thrive within the industry, UKFT is relaunching UKFT Rise this month as a supportive community for UK fashion and textile entrepreneurs who have been in the business less than three years. The first event is on January 30 in London.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (PC)
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