Can schools provide the next generation of fashion and textiles employees?

With the fashion and textiles manufacturing sector experiencing positive sentiment and economic data, firms looking to expand. As evidenced by the recent Alliance report, the sector could require 20,000 additional staff by 2020.   This is against a backdrop of an ageing workforce which will requiring replacing. Additionally, these staff have acquired a high level of skill through their experience within the industry so as well as replacing them, new recruits will require a degree of understanding about the sector which will allow skills to be developed. This is also against the backdrop of the sector suffering from an image problem and struggling to attract new entrance into the sector.

A key question to this issue is the role education and schools can play and whether a pipeline can be installed that allows employers to engage with education and introduce the sector to potential new recruits.

The GSCE entrance data for England shows that there were over 37,000 entrants onto textiles related GCSE’s in 2014. This is 2,000 down on 2012 which could be a significant downturn if it continues.

In terms of subject areas, the technology pathway which gives more emphasis to material properties and construction has seen almost 3,000 fewer pupils less take this GCSE whilst there has been an almost 1,000 rise in the art and design route. This is consistent with the continued popularity of fashion design careers for which Higher Education is currently catering a substantial number of places towards.

2012 2014
Art & Design (Textiles) 7,661 8,593
D&T Textiles Technology 31,899 29,039
TOTAL 39,560 37,632

Source: Department for Education

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