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September 20, 2018

How Fashion Apprenticeships Are Boosting The Clothing Manufacturing Sector

When people think of fashion, they often imagine star-studded events, exclusive shows and a myriad of exciting opportunities around every corner. In fact, in reality, this industry can be a hard nut to crack, and those high-end careers are often not as glamorous as first imagined. Pursuing a job in this sector can be an extremely rewarding path but as with many creative industries, you have to have a tenacious attitude and passionate work ethic to create the career path you desire. Fashion apprenticeships are an ideal starting point for individuals into the industry, and they are hugely beneficial to both individuals and companies that offer them.

The fashion industry as a whole is seeing growth in the UK, and recent figures have showcased its value to the UK at a staggering £32 billion according to recent statistics. This figure displays a positive outlook for anyone looking to start a career in the industry, and although the high-street has recently seen tougher times, many avenues in this diverse sector are flourishing including UK clothing manufacturing. The fashion sector also remains one of the largest areas for employment across the UK and has been a driver in influencing buying trends and consumer habits over the past decade.

Some of the most notable changes in the industry come from significant environmental factors such as the overuse of plastics, and animal welfare issues. This influence has encouraged innovation and forward thinking in several areas of the industry, and paved the way for a host of designers and brands that provide a new and fresh perspective on ethical and sustainable fashion.

With this positive growth in the fashion industry, businesses can take advantage of a range of potential training opportunities for new and aspiring employees. There is a host of funding and development initiatives that organisations can use to boost business development. An announcement during London Fashion Week delivered by the Prime Minister discussed the injection of £150 million into the creative sector including the fashion and design industry. This positive outlook for the fashion industry will continue to promote the influence the UK has in the sector and paves the way for bigger and better things for new and established fashion brands.

So how can future talent help you improve your brand and boost your opportunity for growth? We take a look at how fashion apprenticeships and other training schemes for prospective employees can benefit not only your business but boost the future of the fashion industry.

Benefits of fashion apprenticeships to businesses

Cost-effective and rewarding training

Apprenticeships were once seen as an opportunity for business to employ lower paid staff, however, in recent years many companies are now providing a good wage for trainees above this minimum level, as they see immense value in this type of training with an increase in employee retention. In some cases, funding may be available for other training costs associated when offering a fashion apprenticeship so this can help you concentrate on providing rewarding work experience for your new recruits.

Gaining fresh ideas

Fashion apprenticeships provide people with the opportunity to get involved with a diverse set of everyday tasks in your company. This invaluable insight for the learner not only benefits them but can also open up your current workforce to fresh ideas. Trainees are often buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm when working in their dream job so you may find they can help your team see different solutions to a problem or come up with entirely new ideas to sample.

Creates a diverse workforce

In some areas of the fashion industry, in particular, clothing manufacturing, there has a been a shortage of people looking to enter these sectors. This lack of interest is often down to stereotypes about jobs and misinformation on the types of careers available. Apprenticeships can open up this skills gap in the sector and provide an avenue for interest in lesser-known areas such as clothing production, textile design and garment technology.

Investing in the fashion industry

As a whole, fashion apprenticeships and other sources of training are helping to boost the future of the fashion industry. By developing skills and talent in your company, this brings innovative and inspiring ideas to the fold and encourages healthy competition and improvement across the sector.

Enhances engagement and productivity

Trainees and apprentices bring a whole range of skills with them. This new generation of employees have experienced different things and have a unique insight alongside your current workforce. This can also bring different types of people together to work more productively and boost communication and engagement in many aspects of your organisation. Individuals from diverse backgrounds offer the chance to spark conversation and collaborate more efficiently which is of huge benefit to everyday operations.

Types of fashion apprenticeships

Fashion apprenticeships are a great way for individuals to gain experience and study for qualifications while they work in the industry. In recent years, the government have been investing in this method of education and improving real-world skills to offer more people the chance to get the career they want outside of the traditional higher education routes. The fashion industry is one of the areas benefiting from this boost and is seeing considerable interest from students looking to start their career through a work-based route.

As discussed above, there are many benefits for fashion businesses to offer local apprenticeships but there is a host of advantages for trainees too including getting hands-on experience in a chosen niche, building connections with relevant professionals and experts, plus exploring areas of fashion that may not have been considered previously.

Depending on your business niche, there is a range of apprenticeship schemes that your company could offer including:

  • Design
  • Retail
  • Garment and textiles production
  • Fashion cutting
  • Fashion marketing

The diverse range of sectors make it a melting pot for new talent and working with a apprenticeships provider, or local college can help you gain valuable trainees that are looking to further their career prospects in the fashion industry.

Alternative training opportunities for fashion brands

Apprenticeships provide an invaluable source of fresh talent for business, but there are some other options that can also have huge benefits for the fashion industry.

Fashion internships

Internships have historically been one of the first places to start when it comes to getting your foot in the door of the industry. However, this type of experience has come under scrutiny in the past due to the nature of unpaid work and less than reasonable work ethics by some brands.

More recently companies offering fashion internships have turned a corner, and this still remains a good way for individuals to discover the inner workings of the industry especially if you want to assess trainees suitability for future employment prospects.

This opportunity is a short-term solution and is usually suitable for people that are studying relevant subjects or are looking to gain relevant experience in a particular industry. However, if you are looking to attract people that are looking for long-term career paths in your particular business, an internship may not be suitable. Internships are often perceived as a temporary solution, and you may not receive the same level of interest from people looking to specifically work in your sector.

Benefits of fashion internships for businesses

Internships can be an excellent way to trial a potential applicant before they embark on a fashion apprenticeship with your company. This way both you and the student will test the waters before committing to long-term training.

Costs are another thing to consider, as although this type of training is low-cost and a short-term solution, there are laws regarding how the intern is classified for employment. For more information on hiring fashion interns, take a look at Employment rights for interns.

University fashion degrees

Alongside work experience based routes into the industry, there are a number of applicants that may come forward with a degree from established institutions. This particular entry route may be valued in your sector, and candidates bring a host of skills and work-based experience to the table.

Benefits for fashion brands

Some universities offer the chance to team up with specific industry sectors and establishing your organisation as a partner with a prestigious fashion college or university will open you up to a diverse set of students and future designers. The investment in this type of partnership will be significant, but the benefits of joining well-known educational establishments are ten-fold. Some of the main benefits for your business include:

  • Consultancy and marketing opportunities
  • Access to a niche pool of talent
  • Courses and ongoing training opportunities for your business and staff
  • Resources and data on the industry
  • Offer support for work experience or placement year students

How apprenticeship schemes and training opportunities boost the sector

Creative industries have seen staggering growth over the past decade and with innovations in technology, there have been significant improvements in how organisations operate on a day-to-day level. That said, there are some areas in the fashion industry that are suffering from a skills shortage, and in some cases, this is due to the stereotypes surrounding particular niches. Manufacturing and clothing production is one area that is seeing steady growth, but the number of people entering the industry at a young age is diminishing.

This skills gap is a significant contributor to the issues many clothing manufacturers face for the future, and creating a solution to these shortcomings with fashion apprenticeships and training could spark a new age for manufacturing in the UK. Take a closer look at how fashion apprenticeships bring positive change to the industry:

Plugging the skills gap in manufacturing

Skills and qualities that were once in abundance in previous decades are starting to fade out as the next generation of fashion graduates are looking to enter design routes. To reduce this skills gap and pass down the knowledge of the maturing manufacturing generation, fashion apprenticeships provide the perfect opportunity to train an enthusiastic and passionate sect of young people.

Fresh thinking

In many areas of the fashion industry, there is a subset of people that have established brands and reputation in their field. Although this input is invaluable to fashion and design, new insights and fresh thinking is key to bringing exciting and transformational ideas to the table. Fashion apprenticeships enable companies to utilise this talent pool and harness new and valuable concepts in this fast-paced industry and help develop an individual's confidence and abilities to inspire the next generation.

Regeneration in local areas

Many people often associate fashion apprenticeships and internships with city locations, in particular, London. However, with the growing number of fashion brands and businesses spanning the country, there is a hive of opportunities across the UK. This regeneration in areas outside of the capital is encouraging people to consider fashion jobs away from the city, which improves local areas. By offering young people in your local area the chance to gain experience and employment in the fashion industry, this will help to regenerate the community and boost your reputation on a local and national scale.

Offering fashion apprenticeships in your business

As we’ve discussed above, fashion apprenticeships and internships can be extremely beneficial to both your business and potential employees. One of the setbacks can be implementing an apprenticeship scheme in your workplace. Fortunately, it’s not as tricky as you’d expect but there are a number of steps you need to take to ensure you meet laws and regulations when employing an apprentice.

Some of the key areas to implement include:

  • Choosing a suitable framework and course for the apprenticeship role
  • Partnering with an education provider to deliver the theory elements of the course
  • Establishing an agreement and pay rate for your apprentice
  • Finding the perfect candidate

For more detailed information on hiring an apprentice, find out more information here.

Both fashion brands and clothing manufacturers can benefit from industry training opportunities, and there is a number of funding avenues to explore when considering your options. Apprenticeships could be a great way to boost your business and find the right talent to improve productivity and future growth. Take a look at your options today and invest in the future of the industry.

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