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Web Exclusive | January 2020

UKFT to continue supporting UK fashion & textile industry

The strength of UK brands continue to grow due to their creativity, quality, heritage and innovation. UKFT’s latest figures show that value of UK fashion and textile exports have reached almost Euro 10 billion representing an increase of 66 per cent in a decade. Thus in 2020 and beyond, UKFT will continue uniting the industry to address some of its big challenges.

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.
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