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Put skills centre stage to inspire youngsters

One of the biggest events to take place in the capital between now and the Olympics will be WorldSkills London, a competition where young people from across the world aim to be the best of the best.

Some 50 different skills - from cabinet making and cookery to mobile robotics to fashion technology - will be showcased.

Twenty of the world’s most talented students will have four days to produce a design from fabric supplied by the industry, including from sponsor Michael’s Bridal Fabrics, a keen supporter of young talent.

WorldSkills, which will take place on October 5-8 at ExCeL in London, will attract global media attention.

It will also lure education ministers from all over the world, including China.

However, there are a number of less high-profile but very important and exciting initiatives that are also seeking to address the worldwide skills shortage.

In Bradford, the Society of Dyers and Colourists has got past phase one of developing a Studio School aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds. This will focus on practical learning, enterprise, apprenticeships and work experience, and the curriculum will have a fashion and textile bias. What a fantastic idea - a school with one eye on the great opportunities our industry has, while at the same time developing a talent pool of well-trained individuals.

And for the wider industry, Skillset - working with the UK Fashion & Textile Association and several other bodies - is putting together a series of bids to submit to the Government for help in developing training provision and to ensure the training costs to companies are as low as possible. While most firms are spending every hour concerned about ‘today’, if we are to progress then thinking about the future is a must - and finding ways to get youngsters into the industry has to be a priority.

Adam Mansell is chief operating officer at UK Fashion & Textile Association

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