BTMA: Revitalizing West Yorkshire’s Textile Industry
West Yorkshire is witnessing a resurgence in its textile industry, with a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship training course for textile engineering technicians. The region, historically known for its textile excellence since the 19th century, is now embracing digitalization and the localization of supply chains. However, the industry faces challenges due to an ageing workforce and high staff turnover.
Calderdale College has collaborated with the Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE) and the British Textile Machinery Association (BTMA) to develop a bespoke Level 3 apprenticeship course, set to launch in September 2023. This innovative program aims to close the skills gap in West Yorkshire’s textile industry by equipping Engineering Technician apprentices with the essential engineering maintenance skills required for the modern textile sector.
To ensure the passing on of vital know-how and best practices, the engineering training at Calderdale College has been adapted to meet the current requirements of the textile industry. This unique approach aligns with the new skills demanded by Industry 4.0 and automation, positioning the region for future success.
The development of this cutting-edge program has been a two-year collaboration between Calderdale College, TCoE, BTMA, British heritage weaver AW Hainsworth, and several local textile companies. Building on the success of the Collaborative Apprenticeships project launched in 2022 at Calderdale College, the institution has engaged with over 100 local employers, promoting the benefits of increasing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships. This initiative has encouraged new businesses to introduce apprenticeships for the first time.
Benefits for Employers and the Industry
Claire Williams, Head of Employer Engagement at Calderdale College, emphasizes the benefits of apprenticeships for various sectors, citing improved staff retention and a continuous flow of skilled workers. Recognizing the textile industry’s struggle to find tailored apprenticeship training, the new course aims to address this critical gap in the market, setting an example for the entire industry.
Filling Skills Gaps for the Future
Martin Jenkins, Director of Training at TCoE, highlights that the program will fill current and future skills gaps in the industry, particularly in specialized areas where finding skilled talent has been challenging. The course’s focus on both the textile and engineering sectors makes it a natural fit for the demands of the evolving industry. The overwhelming interest from apprentices and employers reaffirms its potential for success.
The Key to Success: Collaboration
Jason Kent, CEO of the British Textile Machinery Association, emphasizes that collaboration has been key to the course’s development. Involving not just BTMA, Calderdale College, and TCoE, but also employers directly benefiting from the program, has resulted in an industry-led course that provides exciting career paths for young talents while bolstering the sector with technical expertise and skills.