Finance

Academy opens to train next generation of fashion workers


A new academy has opened in Leicester to train the next generation of workers for the city’s still thriving fashion sector.

The Fashion Technology Academy (Leicester) has been launched by training provider Fashion-Enter with £300,000 of support from Leicester City Council.

Based in Stonebridge Street, Spinney Hills, in the heart of the city’s garment industry, the centre will offer apprenticeships and accredited training for people who work in, or want to work in, textiles. Courses are free to unemployed people.

The centre shares a building with Leicester clothing company Ethically Sourced Products, which has made the second floor of its premises available for the project.

Trainees have already started on some of the first courses, with an event held for partners, industry professionals, fashion retailers to mark the official launch.

The city council said £100,000 of the £300,000 funding has come from the local business rates pool, administered by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).

Other partners include suppliers Triumph Needle and Alvanon, plus fashion etailer I Saw It First, which has invested £150,000 in training to be delivered by the new academy.

In a further boost to the industry locally, a recent successful bid to the Government’s Community Renewal Fund means the city council will receive £500,000 to work together with partners Fashion-Enter and De Montfort University to offer co-ordinated support to textiles manufacturers and local textiles workers.

The city council’s adult skills and learning team is also working closely with the academy to offer English courses at the venue for speakers of other languages.

Deputy city mayor Coun Adam Clarke said: “The opening of this academy is the result of years of hard work, and ideas that were first formulated at a ground-breaking textiles coalition event hosted by Leicester’s city mayor in 2017.

“This project has been developed to help tackle the problems that we know exist in the garment industry locally and are determined to address – despite having no enforcement powers ourselves.

“Leicester has the second largest concentration of textiles and fashion businesses in the UK, so this is a hugely important industry to our local economy, and it is one we are determined to support.

“Creating a highly-skilled and specialist workforce is an important and crucial step in creating workplaces where staff are valued, leading to higher standards of workplace compliance.”

Jenny Holloway, director of Fashion-Enter, said: “The opportunity for ethical ‘speed of response’ fashion from Leicester is enormous for retailers and etailers today.

“Fashion-Enter is delighted to be working collaboratively with partners to train a further generation of multi-skilled workers. Thank you to all involved – this is just the start.”

Kevin Harris, who chairs the LLEP board of directors, said: “I’m delighted that the Fashion Technology Academy (Leicester) officially launches today.

“Our textile sector has a long local history and has faced some tough times, so the LLEP is pleased to support this initiative with a £100,000 investment from the business rates pool that we administer.

“I look forward to seeing the academy developing the workforce and skills of our future textile specialists.”

The new academy will work closely with local textiles and fashion manufacturing businesses as well as retailers, with representatives from companies including Asos attending the launch event.

Simon Platts, responsible sourcing director at ASOS, said: “We’ve worked with Fashion-Enter in London since 2010 and financed its Stitching Academy in 2015, helping to grow and retain vital textile manufacturing skills.

“Now the launch of Fashion Technology Academy Leicester will undoubtedly bring similar benefits to Leicester, helping to turn the city into the fashion centre of excellence that we know it has the potential to be.”

Greg Pateras, chief executive of I Saw It First, said: “I Saw It First is committed to the British textiles industry, and our latest investment in the academy reinforces our desire to strengthen the sector and improve standards.”

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