Reference Number: ST0202

Details of standard


Footwear Manufacturer apprenticeship standard                               

A footwear manufacturer is someone who produces children’s, ladies’ or men’s shoes, boots, sports and dance footwear, trainers or slippers within a factory or smaller studio production environment. Footwear manufacturing is a highly respected, skilled trade.

The British footwear manufacturing industry has a very high reputation internationally, and supports the pursuit of excellence in its traditional craft skills whilst also embracing innovation and technology. There are approximately 30 larger footwear manufacturers in the UK and 60 smaller specialist footwear making businesses. They manufacture circa 5.6million pairs of shoes per year, with a value of £380 million. Almost half of the footwear produced in the UK is exported. The industry employs 4000 people, approximately half of those are footwear manufacturers. 

Footwear manufacturers may work in a small-scale operation making specialist or bespoke/personalised footwear, through to larger factories with extensive teams and departments, usually producing larger runs of the same piece of footwear. Regardless of which methods the employers use, footwear manufacturers know and understand the end-to-end process of how to manufacture a piece of footwear. The working hours are typically Monday to Friday.

Footwear manufacturers work quickly and accurately using hand tools, technical equipment and machinery. They consistently and accurately follow their employer’s specifications for each piece of footwear within agreed timescales and to the required quality standard. They have great attention to detail and quality and are ever mindful of health and safety.

Footwear manufacturers are very much part of a team, they report to Team Leaders, Supervisors or Owners. They may also interact with Production Managers, General Managers and Quality Managers and production colleagues. In smaller firms, footwear manufacturers may also deal directly with clients and designers.

Typical day-to-day duties may include:

  • Cutting materials (mostly leather)
  • Skiving (thinning the material)
  • Closing (sewing the upper part of the footwear),
  • Lasting (forming the footwear)
  • Attaching the sole
  • Finishing the footwear
  • Quality inspection and packing to company specification

Some Footwear Manufacturers choose to stay in production, while others progress to team leadership, management and beyond. Further training and production experience in making footwear may also lead to highly skilled specialist production roles crafting the very highest quality footwear.

Requirements: Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours




Health, Safety and the Environment





  • How Health & Safety legislation applies to their area of responsibility, that of others and the environment.
  • Effective use of equipment and safe working methods.
  • Hazard and risk identification in the work area.
  • The impact of footwear manufacture on the environment and how this impact can be minimised in the workplace. 


Implement workplace safety processes by:

  • Safely selecting, using, maintaining and storing equipment, materials and associated components (parts of the footwear product).
  • Minimising hazards and risks in the workplace through safe working practices.
  • Follow and maintain work procedures to ensure safety requirements are met.

Footwear Construction Process



  • The importance of brand quality standards and attention to detail throughout the process.
  • Footwear construction terminology and its use in the workplace.
  • Footwear sizing
  • The ‘end-to-end’ main footwear construction process (cutting, skiving, closing, lasting, attaching sole and heel, finishing, quality checking and packing). 
  • Stages and variations of production for different footwear product types e.g. slippers, boots, men’s, children’s and ladies’ shoes. 
  • Materials, machinery and equipment that are required for each stage of the footwear production process. For example, sewing machines for closing, welting machines for welted footwear.

Produce footwear products in line with specification, which may include;

  • Cutting materials, primarily leather, around patterns supplied by the employer. This process can be by hand or machine / laser (clicking).
  • Skiving (thinning the material to allow a flat seam), then closing (hand stitching or machining of uppers, which is the top part of the footwear).
  • Formation of the footwear (lasting) by stretching the upper over the last, which is a plastic or wooden foot mould.
  • Attaching the sole, which might be cemented (glued), or stitched to the upper.
  • Attaching the heel and welt (the strip between sole and upper) where used.
  • Finish the shoe, e.g. polishing techniques, insertion of insole, lacing and final touches.
  • Inspect for quality to company specification.
  • Pack to company specification.


Materials, Tools and  Equipment





  • The characteristics, properties and behaviour of a variety of materials and components used in footwear construction and their suitable application. For example, high quality calf-skin for premium footwear look, durability and finish. Softer materials for ballet shoes, which also have flexible, thin soles. 
  • The Identification of production problems such as machinery not working correctly, and associated corrective actions.
  •  How advancements in innovation have improved footwear construction techniques and processes.
  • Perform routine maintenance to ensure the efficiency of machinery, tools and equipment (i.e. settings and preparation of tools) to meet production expectations.
  • Identify the correct materials and components and use appropriately.
  • Prepare and quality check (for faults) materials and components.
  • Report faults in materials and components to the supervisor or manager.


Work Practices






  • The company’s history, policies, brand values, customer base and product range.
  • The importance of a cost effective workflow.
  • Read and interpret data from specifications and appropriate work instructions.
  • Follow instructions in order to meet customer and company requirements.
  • Implement efficient and effective use of materials by closely following instructions and minimising waste.
  • Undertake processes to consistent speed and quality requirements as outlined by the company.


Footwear manufacturers:

  • Take a proactive approach to Health & Safety procedures, personally and towards colleagues.
  • Demonstrate a positive mind-set towards maintaining high standards of quality, precision and excellence at all times.
  • Are self-motivated and punctual at all times.
  • Take positive and proactive approach to respectful communication and team working.
  • Respond positively and flexibly to change, new requirements and changing priorities.
  • Recognise and appreciate equality and diversity in the workplace.

Entry Requirements

Individual employers will set the selection criteria and specify the entry requirements applicable to their area of work.

English & maths

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for level 2 English and maths prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3 and British Sign Language qualification are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.  


This is a level 2 apprenticeship2


Typically, 12-15 months

Review Date

This standard will be reviewed after 3 years

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