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Burberry tackles skills gap with apprenticeship scheme

Luxury British brand Burberry has launched an apprenticeship scheme to train up new staff in grass-roots manufacturing skills after it was forced to go on a recruitment drive overseas.

The scheme, which is linked to an NVQ qualification, teaches garment-making and weaving to school leavers at its factory in Castleford, West Yorkshire, where Burberry’s iconic trench coats are made.

Burberry would not reveal the size of the scheme, but a source said it was “big enough to make a difference to the business”. It is understood to have launched last year and to have been ramped up in recent months.

The Castleford site employs about 650 people and is Burberry’s last remaining factory in the UK, following the closure of its production bases at Rhondda in south Wales and Rotherham in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

The Castleford factory has been staffing up steadily as Burberry’s sales have rocketed, but last year it could not find enough skilled candidates, including machinists, in the UK to meet demand for its product and was forced to hire overseas workers.

A Burberry spokesman told Drapers: “We have a number of initiatives in place to foster talent. These include engaging with our local communities to promote skills and expertise in craftsmanship, which is central to the heritage and quality of the Burberry product offer.”

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