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Industry Talk

Government skills support for NWTexnet companies

The UK government has announced £2.3 million of ‘in principle’ support for a new textile and clothing skills programme jointly led by Bolton headquartered NWTexnet and the Huddersfield based Textile Centre of Excellence.

24th September 2012

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Bolton

Sports/​Outdoor, Protective, Medical/Hygiene, Transport/​Aerospace, Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable, Interiors, Construction, Civil Engineering, Industrial, Packaging, Agriculture

The announcement comes after the first round of the ‘Employer Ownership of Skills’ initiative invited companies in England to design more effective ways to improve skills in the workforce to drive productivity and growth.

Textile and clothing businesses across England joined forces to create a proposal to increase employer leadership, commitment and investment in skills. Of the £2.3 million industry contribution to the project, NWTexnet companies have a 50% stake.

New skills required

Prof Richard Horrocks Chairman NWTextnet commented on the announcement: “There has never been a greater demand for new innovative textile products to support developments in the aerospace, automotive, medical sector and other sectors associated with technical textiles which is now a key component of advanced manufacturing.  As niche higher added value markets continue to grow in apparel and textiles we need new skills to compete effectively.”

“Our employers have been telling us that they want to influence the supply and quality of training.  They have embraced the call to action by Government and believe that this initiative is an important catalyst for change”.

“Company leaders have worked with sector bodies to create an ambitious and innovative new approach. Our partnership includes manufacturers from textiles, technical textiles, apparel and textile services sectors, our trade associations and Creative Skillset, the Sector Skills Council."

Our project includes practical new ideas for working with education, attracting and preparing industry entrants, developing Apprenticeships and creating new opportunities for increasing technical knowledge”.

NWTexnet was formed by North West clothing and textile business leaders in 1999 and has over 80 member companies. The organisation is the UK representative on the European World Class Textiles Cluster and its Advanced Skills for Advanced Manufacturing Programme helps companies move into higher added value apparel and technical textiles markets including Automotive, Medical and Aerospace.

Step change

Huddersfield’s Textile Centre of Excellence Managing Director, Bill Macbeth also welcomed the Government announcement saying: “This project will bring about a step change in the level and quality of training in the sector, demonstrating new models for public investment. Our approach will reverse the long term decline in Apprenticeship training, raise the profile of the sector and engage the talent that our companies need to compete more effectively."

The project is also said to have been welcomed from all sides of industry and education.  Paul Johnson, Managing Director of WT Johnson and Sons Cloth Finishers said:

“The Government invited industry to take the lead in designing and delivering the skills training required for their businesses to compete more effectively.  This proposal clearly demonstrates that our industry has heard, and has responded to that challenge.  Given the resources, we will create new partnerships with schools, introducing new pathways for ambitious young people to take up rewarding careers and enabling our businesses to succeed in high value markets around the world”.

Details of the project will be finalised this month with a launch planned for end of October 2012.

The Employer Ownership Pilot, launched on 7 February 2012 is jointly funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education and routes public investment directly to employers so they can design and deliver more flexible training packages. Employers are expected to provide co-funding.

Further information


Steve Kay, Tel: 01204 860 185, [email protected]

Mike Bentley, Tel: 01623 827 949, [email protected]

Textile Centre of Excellence

Bill Macbeth, tel: 01484 346500, [email protected]


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