The skills strategy, which was based on detailed research interviews with more than 2,000 employers, highlights three key areas that will need to be addressed if the UK is to compete in the global market. The first area for action is skills intelligence, as Skillfast-UK’s chief executive, Linda Florance, explains. ‘Many employers tell us that it is difficult to recruit people into the industry because young people and their advisers don’t understand the breadth job opportunities and the skills the industry requires. Our first objective is to try to change that by providing better careers intelligence. We also want to use our research on the sector’s skills needs to influence government policy-makers to do more for our sector on skills and training.’
The second area for action is to hone the training and qualifications that are provided by UK schools, colleges and universities, so that they aligns better with the skills that employers really need. Florance comments: ‘All too often we hear that tax-payers’ money is being wasted on providing courses that don’t provide the necessary skills. This means that employers and employees both get a bad deal and we want to work with training providers to get it right in future.’
The third area for action is to put technical training back into the UK skills system – which Skillfast-UK sees as a major challenge, but one that could make a major difference to the fashion and textile sector’s 79,000 businesses. ‘Unfortunately, many colleges have stopped running specialist training courses for cost reasons and our research shows that there is now very little sector-specific technical training to build the skills of employees once they have got a job in the industry. We have already piloted a scheme called a ‘Skills HQ’ – where we work with a large employer or group of small employers and a local college – to develop a technical training course that meets their needs.  We want to roll that out across the UK.’
Speaking at the strategy launch event, Skills Minister, David Lammy, said, ‘I’m glad that Skillfast-UK is committed to a long-term strategy for skills, working with education and training providers to meet the sector’s future skills needs.  The Government is committed to developing a flexible, responsive and high-quality training system through programmes such as Train to Gain and apprenticeships, which ensure employers have the skilled workforce they need to compete.’
Employers can request a copy of the strategy at, then clicking on the link to STRATEGY.  UK-based fashion and textiles employers who would like to comment on the strategy can do so via an online survey, available at