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Skillset appoints UKFT director as chairman of Fashion and Textiles Skills Council

John Wilson, the outgoing director general of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), has been appointed chairman of the Skillset Fashion and Textiles Skills Council.

Wilson said that as head of the newly formed Skillset Fashion and Textiles Skills Council he would tackle government training funds that do not meet the sector’s needs and forge closer links between industry and higher education.

Skillset became the Sector Skills Council for fashion and textiles on April 1, when fashion industry body Skillfast was integrated into the larger organisation following cuts in government funding. Skillset is also the Sector Skills Council for various other creative industries including film, television and publishing.

Wilson said: “We need colleges to teach what the industry needs.For example, there are too many trained designers for the number of jobs and most are not technically competent enough.”

He said Skillset would also lobby government to change the criteria for apprenticeship funding to meet the needs of small businesses and freelancers, rather than focusing on big businesses.

Wilson has called for retailers to pledge their time and money to take Skillset for fashion and textiles forward and wants retailers and brands to contact him to offer their support as advisers.

“Regardless of the result of the upcoming election, we will have less resource from the Government and from Skillset than Skillfast did as a specialist body, so it is up to the industry to back the initiatives they value,” he said.

The Skillset Fashion and Textiles Skills Council, which will meet for the first time in May to set an agenda, is likely to give Skillset approval and accreditations to a network of colleges under a Skillset Fashion and Textiles Academy scheme, an initiative that Skillset already runs for the media industry.

Wilson, who is retiring as UKFT director general this summer to be replaced by former Drapers editor Eric Musgrave, will head the Skillset industry council for the foreseeable future but hopes to find a replacement within a year.

Other board members include Mark Henderson, chairman of the UKFT Skills, Training and Education Committee, and Simon Ward, joint chief executive of the British Fashion Council.

Nine of the previous 30-strong Skillfast team are now employed by Skillset in the fashion and textiles division that will be headed by sector manager Jamie Petrie, who was previously head of qualifications and standards at Skillfast.

Skillset executive director Kate O’Connor said: “It is a smaller team because we had to get rid of roles that were duplicated at Skillset.”

To contact Skillset email info@skillset.org or telephone 020 7713 9800.

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