An innovative project to deliver apprenticeships and accredited training for the textiles industry is set to be launched in Leicester.
The textiles skills centre will be established following a £100,000 grant from the Pooled Business Rates fund, and a £300,000 investment from Leicester City Council. The Pooled Business Rates Fund a pot of surplus funding managed by the LLEP, that is used to invest in economic development priorities across Leicester and Leicestershire.
The project will be delivered by leading training provider Fashion Enter Ltd and local clothing company Ethically Sourced Products Ltd and is provisionally named the Leicester Fashion Technology Academy.
Leicester has the second largest concentration of textile and fashion manufacturing businesses in the UK, and is one of our key industry sectors in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Skills provision is a key target for the LLEP, and we are proud to support a project that will ensure local people are able to gain the skills necessary to support this important industry’s future. The new academy will look to work closely with local textiles and fashion manufacturing businesses, providing vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.
Kevin Harris is Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors. He said:
“I’m delighted to see the announcement of the planned textiles training centre, which will bring about some really positive collaborations. Our Business Gateway Growth Hub already has a number of business support initiatives in place for the textile sector and having this further investment in workforce skills and technology training will deliver the next generation of textile specialists.
“this is a very proud day for Leicester, the result of over five years of work to bring this project to fruition. The resilience of our textiles sector has been tested of late, but has come through strongly. This development will ensure the industry goes from strength to strength in the years to come.”
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Leicester has a long and proud history of textile manufacturing and we want the industry to play an important and positive role in the city’s future.
“We have some fantastic textiles businesses in the city. Many are working with leading fashion brands and retailers and together they employ thousands of people. However, many businesses have told us that they struggle to recruit workers with the right skills. We also know that many local workers want to develop their skills and progress within the industry.
“Establishing this new training academy with leading experts in the field is an exciting way of supporting the fashion and textiles industry in Leicester and helping ensure that local workers have the best opportunities to develop their skills and careers.”
Leicester’s new textiles training centre will be operated by Fashion-Enter Ltd, a specialist technical skills training provider. The not-for-profit social enterprise based in both London and Newtown, Wales, is recognised as a centre of excellence for the development of skills in the fashion and textiles industries.
Fashion-Enter set up its successful Fashion Technology Academy in north London in 2015. Leicester will be the second city it has launched a fashion academy in.
Recruits to the new academy can work towards advanced certificates and progress onto one of Fashion-Enter’s apprenticeship schemes for retail employers.
Jenny Holloway, director of Fashion-Enter, said: “ We have worked with Leicester over the last five years and we know what a major cluster of garment manufacturing there is. We now have a unique opportunity to create a quality-based hub that will engage with retailers and manufacturers to create a new generation of highly trained specialists. These are exciting times indeed.”
The new training centre will be based on the top floor of Ethically Sourced Products’ factory premises in Spinney Hills.
Ethically Sourced Products Ltd was formed almost 20 years ago and originally produced organic Fairtrade t-shirts as tour merchandise for artists including Radiohead and Stereophonics. Now specialising in production for British heritage and luxury brands, garments made at its Leicester factory are sold all over the world.
Richard Olley, owner and managing director of Ethically Sourced Products Ltd, said: “The launch of the Leicester training centre will give real practical help not only to manufacturers looking to recruit new, or upskill existing employees, but to members of the community wishing to enter the industry”.
The new Leicester Fashion Technology Academy is planning to open in early summer, following refurbishment of the new premises, with delivery of an initial taster programme.