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Save Our Skills: Student letter

An open letter to the industry from a third-year fashion technology student

An open letter to the industry from a third-year fashion technology student:

I am writing in the hope that the fashion industry can help highlight what I believe to be a disastrous decision to close the BSc Fashion Technology degree at De Montfort University, due to government cutbacks.

As student representative, myself and all the students on the course were shocked to hear that the course would finish and the university would no longer accept applications for 2011. When querying this with the university, it became apparent that it was felt the technical skills gained while we are studying the course were supposedly not popular in the industry, and that we as students would struggle to find jobs when we graduate. Personally I don’t agree. I am sure your readers will be similarly surprised to hear this.

The course itself is brilliant. We learn and take part in all different aspects used in the industry to enable us to gain roles such as fashion technologist, garment technologist, fabric technologist, textile dyer, IT designer, pattern cutter and even designer. Even those who go on to become a buyer, a less technical role, benefit from the technical knowledge the course brings. Surely the best buyers will understand how a piece was made and will fit when choosing what to buy.

I just can’t understand why a course packed with such invaluable content would even be considered for termination.

I am presently doing a year’s technical placement at [womenswear retailer] Long Tall Sally. The companies for which myself and my coursemates are working in our placement year were also very shocked to hear that the course was being terminated. What I have learned from studying fashion technology at De Montfort has helped me massively in my tasks at Long Tall Sally. I’ve come across lots of people who wish they had studied my course or something similar, but there are just no other courses around like it. So why end it? Many other fashion-related courses do not even offer a third-year placement in industry, another valuable experience.

A case in point: my head of department at Long Tall Sally, Lindsey Clark, wishes she had known about our course years ago and is saddened that she won’t be able to continue working with its students, as it meets with Long Tall Sally’s strategy to encourage the development of technical skills within its business.

One look at the Drapers Jobs site tells you how the industry is thriving for technologists.

All I ask is that the industry gets behind us in recognising the skill shortage in the market that the closure of this - and potentially other - courses will create, widening further the technical skills gap in design and manufacturing that has developed over the last 20 years. Technologists are a huge part of the industry and, from my experience, companies would not function or be as successful without them.

Kerry Richmond, third-year student in BSc Fashion Technology at De Montfort University, Leicester

Are you an alumni of the De Montfort course? Are technical skills vital to the future of the fashion industry? How important are technologists to your business?

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