From education to employment

Calderdale College launches groundbreaking new apprenticeship programme

Calderdale College has partnered with Huddersfield-based Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE) and consulted with industry trade body, the British Textile Machinery Association (BTMA) and employers, to develop a bespoke textile engineering course.

Starting in September 2023, the Level 3 apprenticeship course will see Engineering Technician apprentices at Calderdale College receive training from the Textile Centre of Excellence, helping them to develop the engineering maintenance skills required to close the skills gap in West Yorkshire’s textile industry.

Whilst West Yorkshire has been a flourishing hub for textile excellence since the 19th century, its success is currently being hindered by an ageing workforce and high staff turnover. Through adapting the College’s engineering training to address the skills needs of the textile industry, this new course is the first-of-its-kind in the UK and will be vital for ensuring that a historic British industry can continue to flourish.

Calderdale College has developed the programme over a two-year period through close collaboration with the TCoE and the BTMA, as well as through consultation with a number of local employers, including AW Hainsworth.

The new course launch closely follows the success of Calderdale College’s Collaborative Apprenticeships project. Launched in 2022, it has seen the college engage with over 100 local employers to date around the benefits of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of the apprenticeships that they offer, as well as of introducing apprenticeships for the first time.

Claire Williams, Head of Employer Engagement at Calderdale College, said:

“Over the years, we’ve seen how beneficial apprenticeships can be for several sectors, particularly in terms of helping businesses to retain staff and ensuring that they have a steady flow of skilled workers coming in.

“Having identified that employers in the textile manufacturing industry were struggling to find apprenticeship training that was designed around their needs, we knew that alongside employers and our partners, we needed to satisfy this critical gap in the market. We hope that this programme will act as a leading example for the rest of the industry to follow.”

Martin Jenkins, Director of Training at the Textile Centre of Excellence, added:

“This programme will fill current and future skills gaps within the industry, in a specialised skill base that the sector has struggled to fill for many years. For the first time, it addresses the needs and complexities of both the textile and engineering sectors. Having already had a close working relationship with the BTMA and Calderdale College, collaborating on this hybrid apprenticeship was a natural fit. We’ve already seen a high level of interest from both apprentices and employers, and cannot wait to get started.”

Jason Kent, CEO of the British Textile Machinery Association, said:

“When developing this programme, we wanted to ensure it was as collaborative as possible, not just between ourselves, Calderdale College and the Textile Centre of Excellence, but also with the employers directly benefitting from its delivery. We are really proud of the end result, which is a truly industry-led course that will provide exciting and fulfilling career paths for young people, as well as bolstering the sector with additional technical expertise and skills.”

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