There’s a shortage of people pursuing a career in textiles even though it now offers a variety of career opportunities

Nowadays it’s not just about becoming a textile designer – students might wish to pursue a related career in fashion design, decoration or pattern making, all of which are vital elements of the professional clothing textile sector. Most career options in the field of textile design and related careers require a college degree or vocational training, but some positions do allow for on-the-job training.

Whatever the area of textiles, it’s vital that we in the industry provide the best platforms for textile students to present themselves, not only at graduation level, but by offering apprenticeships and even links into schools. Many schools and colleges are now realising that a passion for textiles can start earlier on, as long as they promote fashion and textile careers to young people. Even at GCSE level some schools encourage textiles as a medium when studying art as an option. Let’s keep this momentum going!

The Skills Yorkshire Show, with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership as part of the FutureGoals creative zone, is a great example of how to engage students. The association had a pop-up factory, where students could try out using an industrial sewing machine, as well as learning more about the size and breadth of the industry, potential career paths and job roles. Local training provider Keighley College was present to showcase its range of courses, including apprenticeships, alongside local employers such as Burberry, which is keen to raise the profile of career opportunities available nearby. Platforms such as these help to tackle the critical skills shortage in the UK fashion and textile industry and attract new talent into this thriving sector.

At the PCIAW we are thrilled to be encouraging students around the globe to get involved with PCA Vision, PCIAW’s international student design contest. We have five UK universities already invited to take part and we encourage other organisations in the textiles industry to consider how they could involve emerging talent.


Leah Westcott Graham is editor at PCIAW, the only UK and worldwide association dedicated exclusively to the professional clothing industry, its supply chain and associated industries.