A campaign to raise awareness of careers in the textile and fashion industry in Greater Manchester has already been successful in finding people new jobs, organisers have reported.
The Textile Teashops initiative was launched in Manchester on June 20 and has done a “great job of getting the message out”, according to The Alliance Project, which is responsible for the campaign.
The first four events have already been held in Manchester, Tameside, Oldham and Bury, with the final two events set to take place in Bolton and Rochdale over the next two weekends, July 18-19 and July 25-26 respectively.
The Alliance Project, which was formed in 2011 to examine the potential for repatriating textile manufacturing back to the UK, chose locations for the six pop-up workshops that have a history of manufacturing textiles. They provide a place for the public to meet potential employers and find out what a career in the industry entails.
It estimates that the Greater Manchester textiles industry employs 11,300 people, generating some £650m for the local economy.
Textile employers say this figure is poised to rise as a result of an increase in demand for British-made products, creating an additional 400 new jobs per year for the next ten years. There is also a need to plug the skills gap as existing workers start to retire.
“We know that people who worked in the industry in the 80s and 90s have the skills we desperately need in order to compete with the global market,” said Lorna Fitzsimons, director of the Alliance Project.
The industry is offering re-training for those re-entering the sector, as well as a range of fashion and textile apprenticeships for those interested in joining the sector.
James Eden, managing director of Manchester-based menswear brand Private White VC, which is supporting the initiative, said: “We are expected to be able to respond quickly to the latest trends, and this is creating a second industrial revolution in Manchester.
“Thanks to improved technology brought on by the digital age, the gap in manufacturing costs between the UK and off-shore production has narrowed which means making textiles products in Britain, and indeed Manchester, is becoming economically viable again.
“We also find many fashion houses, and their customers, want to support British industry and this is great news for the sector.”