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Sub-sectors


Apparel

The apparel industry includes the manufacture of: knitwear; hosiery; apparel or clothing such as workwear, underwear and outerwear; plus the wholesale of clothing. Recent manufacturing output of the industry has declined, but productivity has risen where it has remained virtually static across the wider manufacturing sector. Clothing and footwear prices have fallen. Suppliers of niche and luxury brands, such as cashmere and premium fashion garments, are reportedly doing well.

Key statistics:

  • The industry contributes almost £4.8bn to the UK economy each year.
  • Around 156,000 people are employed in the industry with around 20,000 of these using design skills as part of their work.
  • There are around 35,000 businesses, of which around 23,000 are sole traders.
  • There are around 2,000 design consultancies in the industry, employing around 4,000 people.
  • The businesses in this industry tend to be small or medium-sized, employing 250 people or fewer.
  • 42% of the workforce is male.

Jobs in the industry range from:

  • Operative level staff – sewing machinist, garment cutter, garment presser, knitting operative, knitwear linker
  • Craftspeople and designer-makers – handcraft tailor, milliner, couturier
  • Higher level, technical personnel – designer, garment technologist, sample technician, pattern cutter, pattern grader
  • Production managers – production manager, technical managers, production co-ordinator, manufacture co-ordinator

There are not usually any formal entry requirements for lower-level jobs in the apparel industry. Employers look for candidates who are good with their hands, reliable and willing to learn. Many jobs will provide training in the workplace, sometimes alongside formal vocational qualifications.

The fashion and textiles sector has a track record of recruiting adults who are looking for career change. Many skills needed in the industry are transferable. Those who have previously worked in a wholesale environment or management position may be able to transfer more easily. Those in professional and management positions can move into similar posts in other areas or sectors.

Recent forecasts indicate a decline in the number of people employed in apparel manufacturing of 30% to 2014. This will be mainly due to the transfer of production overseas. However, it is estimated that there will be a need to recruit 16,000 people over the same period to replace those leaving the industry, mainly because of retirements. Future employment will be available mainly in higher level jobs, such as management and technical roles. The wholesale area is also expected to see a slight growth in employment.

A decline in the number of people employed in production activities is expected, as more manufacturing moves overseas. Subject-specific technical skills are the most sought after, which include:

  • knowledge of garment technology, construction and sampling skills
  • pattern making, cutting and grading skills
  • sewing machine skills
  • knowledge of fabric types and properties
  • knowledge of production and finishing methods

The number of vacancies in the manufacturing side of the industry has declined since 2008. The occupation dominating these vacancies was Sewing Machinist. The most advertised job category was ‘design,’ which accounted for more than one-third of advertised opportunities.

Within the industry, there is a shortage of Designers and Garment Technologists with the appropriate practical skills. Those working as Sewing Machinists or Garment Cutters increasingly need to update their skills in-line with new technologies. The majority of UK companies report difficulties in recruiting people with the right skills for jobs in Design, Production Management, Sewing, Pattern Cutting, Grading and Tailoring.

The clothing industry is widely distributed across England, but with key clusters:

  • clothing manufacture in Leicester, Nottingham, London
  • knitwear in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire
  • wholesale of clothing in London, Manchester and Leeds

Across all regions it is estimated that there will be a substantial decline in the total level of employment in the industry to 2017.

East Midlands – There are around 17,000 people employed, making it the second most important region for apparel employment in England. Leicester has the largest industry workforce, followed by Erewash. Difficulties in recruiting skilled workers to fill Garment Technology and Tailoring positions are reported.

East of England – There are around 7,000 people employed within the industry in the region, who are mainly located in Luton and Fenland.

London – London is a key area for clothing manufacture and the wholesale of clothing in the apparel industry, with around 24,000 people employed, making it the largest region for apparel in the UK. Within this area, Westminster has the largest number of people employed in the apparel industry, followed by Tower Hamlets.

North East – There are around 4,000 people employed within the industry in the North East, which represents a small proportion of the total UK employment in this sector. Sunderland has the largest number of people employed, followed by County Durham. An estimated 1,000 recruits will be required in manufacturing positions to 2017 in the region.

North West – There are around 15,000 people employed within the industry in the region, who are mainly located in Manchester.

South East – There are around 5,000 people employed within the apparel industry in the region. Havant has the largest industry workforce in the region.

South West – There are around 6,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in South Gloucestershire.

West Midlands – There are over 6,000 people employed within the industry. Birmingham has the largest number of people employed in the apparel industry.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are over 10,000 people employed within the industry, making it one of the largest regions for apparel in the UK. Leeds has the largest number of people employed in the apparel industry.

Some suggested salary ranges for those working in the industry include:

  • Entry Level Worker, such as a Sewing Machinist – £10,000 to £13,000
  • Technical/craft Worker, such as a Pattern Grader – £14,000 to £18,000
  • Experienced/Management Workers, such as a Production Manager – over £25,000


Source: Skillfast-UK AACS LMI report 2010

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Footwear and leather

The footwear and leather industry includes: leather production and tanning; the manufacture of leather goods and accessories, such as luggage; footwear; and shoe repair.

Recent manufacturing output of the industry has declined, but productivity has risen where it has remained virtually static across the wider manufacturing sector. Clothing and footwear prices have fallen, but suppliers of niche and luxury leather goods are reportedly doing well.

Key statistics:

  • The industry contributes around £700 million to the UK economy each year.
  • There are around 4,600 businesses, of which almost 3,000 are sole traders.
  • Almost 27,000 people work in the industry.
  • There is a forecast decline in the industry of 57% between 2006 and 2014.
  • The wholesale component of the footwear and leather industry is, however, expected to see modest growth in employment.
  • Around six out of ten workers are male.

Jobs in the industry range from:

  • Production staff – leather production operative; footwear manufacturing operative; production manager; technical manager
  • Design staff – footwear designer; footwear technologist; leather goods/accessories designer
  • Repair staff – shoe repairer; shop manager
  • Technology staff – leather technologist

Recent forecasts indicate a decline in the UK footwear and leather industry of 57% to 2014. However, it is estimated that the industry will need to recruit 3,000 people over the same period to replace those leaving, mainly through retirements. The industry is anticipating a decline in the number of people employed in production activities, as more manufacturing moves overseas

There is a shortage of workers with the technical skills needed for practical roles within the leather production industries. Designers with specialist knowledge of footwear and leather products are also in short supply. Subject-specific technical skills are the most sought after, which include:

  • footwear technology
  • leather technology
  • footwear manufacturing operations
  • leather manufacturing operations
  • leather cutting and stitching (by hand)
  • pattern cutting and matching
  • design

The majority of UK companies report difficulties in finding applicants with the right skills for jobs in Leather Technology, Leather Tanning, Leather Manufacturing, Footwear Technology, Footwear Manufacturing and Shoe Repair roles.

The industry is widely distributed across England, but activity is heavily concentrated in Northamptonshire and Lancashire (both footwear areas), together with Walsall (leather goods including saddlery) and Somerset (production of leather and leather goods).

East Midlands – There are around 4,000 people employed within the footwear and leather industry in the East Midlands, which is more than any other region of England. The majority of the workforce is based in Northampton.

East of England – There are almost 2,000 people employed within the industry. South Cambridgeshire has the largest workforce. To 2017, it is estimated that the number in the leather manufacturing industry will need to remain the same, at around 1,000 people.

London – There are around 3,000 people employed within the industry in London, making it the third largest region for footwear and leather in the UK. Hackney has the largest workforce, followed by Westminster. Employment is fairly evenly distributed throughout the remaining districts in London. To 2017, it is estimated that the number of people required in leather manufacturing will increase from around 2,000 to 3,000.

North East – There are around 340 people employed within the industry, which represents a small proportion of the total UK employment in this industry. Redcar and Cleveland have the largest number of people employed in the footwear and leather industry. Employment is fairly evenly distributed throughout the remaining districts. To 2017, it is estimated that 1,000 additional people will be required in leather manufacturing positions.

North West – There are almost 2,000 people employed within the industry in the North West. Manchester has the largest workforce, followed by West Lancashire. It is estimated that there will be a decline in the total level of employment required in leather manufacturing between now and 2017.

South East – There are around 2,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in mid-Sussex. It is estimated that 1,000 more people will be required in leather manufacturing positions between now and 2017.

South West – There are over 3,000 people employed within the industry. Within this region, Mendip and South Somerset have the largest number of people employed. It is estimated that there will be a small decline in the total level of employment required in leather manufacturing to 2017. An estimated 1,000 people will be needed during this time.

West Midlands – There are almost 2,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in Walsall. It is estimated that there will be a slight increase in the total level of employment required in leather manufacturing between now and 2017 in the region and an estimated 4,000 recruits will be needed.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are almost 2,000 people employed within the industry, who are predominately located in Leeds and Bradford. To 2017, it is estimated that there will be a decline in the total level of employment required in leather manufacturing.

Some suggested salary ranges for those working in the industry include:

  • Entry Level worker, such as a Leather Production Operative - £10,000 to £13,000 Multi-Skilled worker, such Skilled Shoemaker - £14,000
  • Experienced/Management workers, such as a Production Manager - £20,000 to £60,000

Source: Skillfast-UK AACS LMI report 2010

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Laundry services and dry-cleaning

The laundry industry includes: dry-cleaning services; laundry services; textile rental; and clothing repair and alteration. In the current economic climate, commercial laundries are reporting their best year ever, while customer-facing, high-street laundries are not doing so well.

Key statistics:

  • The industry contributes £1.1 billion to the UK economy each year.
  • There are around 13,000 enterprises in the textile services industry, of which 11,000 are sole traders.
  • Most of these businesses are small, employing 250 people or fewer.
  • There are around 50,000 people employed in this industry in the UK.
  • The workforce is evenly split between men and women.

Jobs in the industry range from: laundry operative; dry-cleaning operative; presser; branch assistant; repair/alteration hand; machine maintenance technician; laundry engineer; and production manager

The laundry and dry-cleaning industry operates in a market which is highly dependent on the strength of the general economy. Therefore, there could be a slight decline in the number of people employed in this industry over the next few years. The laundry and dry-cleaning industry anticipates a continued growth in terms of employment within the healthcare and corporate sector. Workers who are willing to have a sustained career in this sector and undertake relevant training are highly sought after.

There is a shortage of applicants in the customer-facing roles of the industry. There is also a need for appropriately skilled engineers. Workers in this area often need to be multi-skilled in a variety of different areas.

Skills shortages can usually be addressed with relevant on-the-job training, but there is a shortage of workers within the customer-facing roles. The following skill gaps have been identified:

  • dry-cleaning operation work including spot stain removal
  • maintenance engineering
  • multi-skilling
  • working within strict regulations and conforming to health and safety guidelines
  • maximising productivity through people and process management

The majority of UK companies report difficulties in finding applicants with the right skills for jobs in Maintenance Engineering, Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Operations, and Clothing Alteration. Vacancies in the industry are dominated by laundry and dry-cleaning roles, making this job area the second most popular across the industry.

This industry is fairly evenly distributed across the UK. The greatest concentrations of activity are in urban areas, including parts of London (such as Merton, Lambeth and Ealing) and major cities such as Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool.

East Midlands – There are more than 5,000 people employed within the industry in the East Midlands. The majority of the workforce is based in Leicester. Maintenance Engineering was highlighted as an area which could be improved on.

East of England – There are almost 7,000 people employed within the industry, making it the third largest region. Tendring and South Cambridgeshire have the largest workforces.

London – There are almost 8,000 people employed within the industry, making it the second largest region for laundry and dry cleaning in the UK. Merton has the largest workforce, followed by Lambeth and Ealing. Employment is fairly evenly distributed throughout the remaining districts in London.

North East – There are almost 2,000 people employed within the industry, which represents the smallest proportion of the total UK employment in this industry. County Durham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne have the largest number of people employed in the industry. Employment is fairly evenly distributed throughout the remaining districts.

North West – There are over 5,000 people employed within the industry in the North West. Tameside has the largest workforce, followed by Lancaster. Employment is fairly evenly distributed throughout the remaining districts.

South East – There are over 9,000 people employed within the industry. The workforce is fairly evenly distributed across the sector, but Medway and Reading have higher numbers.

South West – There are almost 4,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in North Dorset.

West Midlands – There are more than 3,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in Sandwell and Birmingham.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are over 3,000 people employed within the industry. The workforce is concentrated in Calderdale, Leeds and Sheffield.

Some suggested salary ranges for those working in the industry include:

  • Entry Level Worker, such as a Laundry Operative – £10,000 to £12,000
  • Multi-Skilled Worker, such a Repair/Alteration Hand – £14,000
  • Experienced/Management Workers, such as a Laundry Manager – £28,000 to £35,000

Source: Skillfast-UK AACS LMI report 2010

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Textiles

The textiles industry includes the: processing of yarns and fibres; dyeing and finishing of yarns, threads and fabrics; manufacture of textile articles, such as soft furnishings; production of carpets; and the production and development of new textiles and fibres, including technical textiles. Recent manufacturing output of the industry has declined, but productivity has risen where it has remained virtually static across the wider manufacturing sector. A few businesses in the fashion and textiles sector as a whole have made redundancies or reduced staff hours, as a result of the current economic climate. Technical markets and overseas businesses have also been hard hit.

Key statistics:

  • The industry contributes around £4.1 billion to the UK economy each year.
  • Around 105,000 people are employed in the industry.
  • There are around 26,000 businesses, of which around 20,000 are sole traders.
  • The businesses in this sector tend to be small or medium-sized, employing 250 people or fewer.
  • 57% of the workforce is male.

Jobs in the industry range from:

  • Process operatives – beamer; blender; carder; textile colour technologist
  • Technician staff – loom tuner/technician; tufting tuner/technician
  • Technical staff – textile technologist
  • Design staff – carpet designer; textile designer
  • Production staff – production manager/director; technical manager/director

Recent forecasts suggest a decline in the UK textiles manufacturing sector of around 29% between 2006 and 2014. However, it is estimated that the sector will need to recruit 25,000 people over the same period to replace those leaving, mainly through retirements.

A decline in the number of people employed in production activities is expected, as more manufacturing moves overseas. The area of technical textiles is newly developing so specialist workers in this area are in demand. Employers have reported the following skills gaps:

  • production and processing skilled trades
  • management, supervisory and ICT skills
  • textile and fabric technology
  • knowledge of fabric development and design

The number of vacancies in the manufacturing side of the industry has declined since 2008. Within the industry, there is a shortage of workers to fill roles at operative level. There is also a shortage of skilled applicants for technician posts. Employers are also looking to increase the level of multi-skilling within the sector.

The majority of UK companies report difficulties in recruiting people with the right skills for jobs in Textile and Fabric Technology, and Design. Textile Processing recruits were a particular concern in the North West, South East, and Yorkshire and the Humber. Companies in the West Midlands reported that they would not have difficulty recruiting people with the right skills.

The greatest concentrations of textile activity are in West Yorkshire (Kirklees and Bradford) and Lancashire (Rochdale and Manchester). Across all regions it is estimated that there will be a substantial decline in the total level of employment in textile manufacturing to 2017.

East Midlands – There are over 9,000 people employed in the region. Leicester City has the largest industry workforce.

East of England There are more than 4,000 people employed within the industry in the region, who are mainly located in Babergh.

London – London employs around 10,000 people in the industry. Within this region, Westminster has the largest number of people employed in textiles.

North East – There are over 2,000 people employed within the industry in the region, which represents a small proportion of the total UK employment in this sector. County Durham has the largest number of people employed, followed by Darlington.

North West – There are almost 20,000 people employed within the industry in the region, who are mainly located in Tameside.

South East There are over 9,000 people employed within the industry in the region, which is evenly distributed around the districts.

South West There are around 4,000 people employed within the industry, who are mainly located in Devon. An area where these companies thought their staff could improve their skills was within Textile Processing roles.

West Midlands – There are over 6,000 people employed within the industry. Wyre Forest has the largest number of people employed in textiles.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are over 13,000 people employed within the industry, making it one of the largest regions for textiles in the UK. Kirklees and Bradford have the largest number of people employed in the textiles industry. An estimated 4,000 recruits will still be needed between now and 2017.

Some suggested salary ranges for those working in the industry include:

  • Entry Level Worker, such as a Beamer - £10,000 to £15,000
  • Multi-Skilled Worker, such a Textile Technologist - £20,000
  • Experienced/Management Workers, such as a Production Manager - £35,000

Source: Skillfast-UK AACS LMI report 2010

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Future opportunities in the sub-sectors

There will be significant employment opportunities in apparel, footwear and textiles manufacturing, mainly because the average age of the current workforce is high. It is estimated that around 40% of the current workforce will need to be replaced up to 2012. Continuing developments in new technologies have an immediate impact on the sector and its products. Technical management skills are key to future opportunities in the sector, which offers pathways to sales, technical support, plus research and development.

In the apparel manufacturing industry, there are significant recruitment needs for sewing machinists. There are also opportunities for product clothing and related designers (such as textile/clothing designers and garment technologists). Organisations in the industry recruit young people offering in-house training.

75% of organisations (excluding sole traders and partnerships) in the fashion design industry have a track record in recruiting young people, which is particularly focused on graduates. New recruits often join the design team, but graduates are recruited in to a variety of roles (such as marketing, PR and merchandising). Potential recruits often lack the relevant skills. There is a particular need for management, associate professional, administration/clerical and productive operatives.

In footwear and leather design and manufacture, people with highly developed technical skills are required for roles in leather technology and footwear technology or design. These skills are needed to meet mass customisation for a consumer market and the exciting expansion of niche and designer-led markets. Opportunities and careers exist in shoe design and technical making skills, as well as in buying and quality control.

In the leather industry (including tannery companies) there are a range of careers which demand technical management. There are recruitment needs for: clickers; closers/stitchers; lasting; making; and welters.

The technical textiles industry makes a significant investment in the recruitment young people, both graduates and school leavers. There are opportunities for professional and high level technical staff, including technologists, and sales and marketing staff.

A good proportion of organisations in the knitting, lace and narrow fabrics industry are involved in the recruitment of young people, both graduates and school leavers. There are particular recruitment opportunities for operative roles (such as sewing and linking workers) and skilled trades (such as knitters and maintenance engineers).

Similar opportunities are available in the carpets industry, including: process operatives; technicians; electricians; managers (particularly shift managers); weavers; and carpet fitters/estimators. In process yarns and fibres, and weaving industries, there are substantial opportunities process operatives, including: warping operative; healder; spinner; finisher; miller; scourer; and twister. Recruitment is focused on: weavers; technicians (such as tuner, loom technician, and tackler mechanic). Other areas of opportunity are: designer; engineer; darner; dyeing operative; and technical dyer.

In dry cleaning, laundry and textile servicing, there are opportunities for core process workers which include: launderers, dry cleaners and pressers. In the servicing industry, opportunities and careers exist in technical roles including buying/merchandising, quality control, technical management.

Source: Skills Needs Assessment 2005

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