The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) has announced the launch of two new projects to help support future talent in the fashion and textile industry.

The projects aim to promote the wealth of opportunities for young people either working with or within a UK manufacturer, as part of the association’s mission to promote the growth of the entire supply chain across the UK, explains UKFT. 

For its first project, Made It, the UKFT will work with five universities a year for the next three years in a campaign to “promote a better understanding of sourcing, production and the benefits of UK manufacturing to the next generation of buyers, designers and entrepreneurs”. The association will deliver masterclasses to second and third year students at the chosen universities, and will be offering five students a year a paid, term-long placement at a UK manufacturer.

UKFT has also developed the UKFT Pop-up Factory and Careers Showcase, which will run at 30 major careers events over the next three years. More than 150,000 people are expected to visit these events, which aim to help address one of the major barriers to growth faced by UK manufacturers – attracting new talent into this vital part of the industry, explains UKFT.

“The pop-up factory will allow young people to have a go at making things, to talk to local employers about job opportunities and to find out about the new apprenticeships that are available for the sector.”  

Chairman of the UKFT, Nigel Lugg, said: “Our UK manufacturers work with some of the best known luxury companies around the world. However, in order to maximise this opportunity, we all need to be encouraging a new generation of people to join our industry and to give our designers of tomorrow the knowledge of what’s on their doorstep and how working with local manufacturers can deliver huge benefits.”

Adam Mansell, chief executive at UKFT, added: “There are currently thousands of job vacancies in the UK fashion and textile manufacturing sector. While there are several reasons for this, the absolute key is that so many people don’t know that there is still a manufacturing industry here in the UK with a huge range of fantastic jobs available. 

“Right now around 120,000 people are employed in the UK manufacturing industry, and collectively they produce over £9 billion pounds of fashion and textiles every year.”