Calderdale College has partnered with the Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE) and the British Textile Machinery Association (BTMA) to develop the bespoke Level 3 apprenticeship course which will start in September 2023.
West Yorkshire is to have a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship training course for textile engineering technicians, reflecting a resurgence in the industry locally, and more generally in the UK.
Engineering Technician apprentices at Calderdale College will receive training from the TCoE, helping them to develop the engineering maintenance skills required to close the skills gap in West Yorkshire’s textile industry.
Through adapting the engineering training at Calderdale College to address the current requirements of the textile industry, the unique new course will ensure the passing on of vital know-how and good practice aligned with the new skills demanded by Industry 4.0 and automation.
While the region has been a flourishing hub for textile excellence since the 19th century and is being revitalised through digitalization and the localisation of supply chains, its success is currently being hindered by an ageing workforce and high staff turnover.
Calderdale College has developed the programme over a two-year period through close collaboration with the TCoE and the BTMA, as well as through consultation with British heritage weaver AW Hainsworth and a number of other local textile companies.
To date, this has seen the college engage with over 100 local employers on the benefits of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of the apprenticeships that they offer, as well as encouraging others to introduce apprenticeships for the first time.
“Over the years, we’ve seen how beneficial apprenticeships can be for several sectors, particularly in terms of helping businesses to retain staff and ensuring that they have a steady flow of skilled workers coming in,” said Claire Williams, head of employer engagement at Calderdale College. “Having identified that employers in the textile manufacturing industry were struggling to find apprenticeship training that was designed around their needs, we knew that alongside employers and our partners, we needed to satisfy this critical gap in the market. We hope that this programme will act as a leading example for the rest of the industry to follow.”
“This programme will fill current and future skills gaps within the industry, in a specialised skill base that the sector has struggled to fill for many years,” added Martin Jenkins, director of training at the TcoE. “For the first time, it addresses the needs and complexities of both the textile and engineering sectors. Having already had a close working relationship with the BTMA and Calderdale College, collaborating on this hybrid apprenticeship was a natural fit. We’ve already seen a high level of interest from both apprentices and employers and cannot wait to get started.”
For Jason Kent, CEO of the British Textile Machinery Association, collaboration is the key to the success of the course.
“When developing this programme, we wanted to ensure it was as collaborative as possible, not just between ourselves, Calderdale College and the Textile Centre of Excellence, but also with the employers directly benefitting from its delivery,” he said. “We are really proud of the end result, which is a truly industry-led course that will provide exciting and fulfilling career paths for young people, as well as bolstering the sector with additional technical expertise and skills.”