2pm, 21st June 2018 Northampton College, Booth Lane NN3.

The board of the BFA today visited manufacturing colleagues in Northamptonshire and  Northampton college staff to celebrate the launch of the new nationally accredited apprenticeship standard which will be available for firms and new entrants from Autumn 2018. This is a vital development for the British footwear make and manufacturing industry.

The new apprenticeship standard has been designed by employers to be flexible; to work for all from the smallest specialist maker to the largest manufacturer. The full apprenticeship outline can be found here: www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/footwear-manufacturer. Firms involved in developing the standard are Loake Brothers, New Balance, Hotter, Church, Dr Martens, Bill Bird Shoes, Crockett & Jones, Trickers, International Dance Shoes, Gaziano & Girling and Cheaney.

The new apprenticeship offers high quality entry level training and experience to those interested in joining a highly skilled, globally respected industry.

Helen Errington, HR Manager for Church’s:  “Church’s has always trained to ensure a succession of skilled staff able to produce the highest quality footwear. We are very pleased to be involved with colleagues in building this new scheme which will make sure the training is even more focused on the technical and skilled aspects of production”.

Robert Perkins, BFA Board member and Chief Operating Officer, Hotter (largest UK footwear manufacturer) “We want to offer a high quality entry point to new recruits in a role which opens the door to a career in production and shoe making. There is great appetite to grow UK production, and developing our skill base is crucial to our future”.

There are around 30 larger factories and 80-100 smaller specialist businesses manufacturing and making shoes in the UK. Collectively they manufacture circa 6million pairs of shoes per year (up from 5.6 in 2016), with a value of £400 million with over half of the footwear produced in the UK is exported. The manufacturing part of the footwear industry employs 4000 people, approximately half of those are footwear manufacturers.

BFA Chief Executive John Saunders “International interest in British made footwear has been possibly never been higher. This is particularly true for the premium bench and hand-made shoes, of the type made in Northamptonshire and the West End. However, along-side these companies the UK has volume manufacturing of high quality comfort footwear in the North-west of England and performance training shoes in Cumbria. There are also numerous smaller businesses nationwide making a variety of fashion and orthopedic footwear. It is vital for future success that sector’s unique making skills are protected and developed. Additionally there are firms that wish to expand production, so this collective effort on training will ensure that all manufacturing businesses are able to offer the kind of nationally approved and formal training we haven’t seen for some time in the UK.”

It is early days for the scheme. Press please note – The footwear industry is working with training providers where firms are hoping to recruit, to support the specialist training required. Northamptonshire manufacturers have also supported Northampton College to develop a working shoe room to provide off-site machine and equipment experience. This embryonic ‘technical academy’ will be built upon over the next few years.

Stephen Bent Dr Martens: ”This is a great industry that offers more career options than people realise. We need supervisors/managers, skilled makers like clickers and closers going forwards. This scheme provides a hands on – earn while you learn option for that exploring that further down the line. We wanted to create a scheme which, no matter which firm you had your apprenticeship with, the skills, knowledge and understanding you gain will be of relevance to any employer so a qualified apprentice will be a very employable person”.

For further information including employee/entrant toolkits – www.britishfootwearassociation.co.uk/training/apprenticeships

Potential recruits should either approach firm they wish to work for directly – or formally register their interest with Northampton business.centre@northamptoncollege.ac.uk

North West adrian.roscoe@westlancs.ac.uk

London Capel Manor College are recording interest at this stage.

The BFA:

The British Footwear Association has supported the British footwear industry since its inception in 1898. 1 December 2018 will mark the start of its 120th Anniversary Year. BFA promotes, represents and supports its member companies through international trade shows, training and development, global and national stakeholder engagement. Over 120 companies are BFA members; from Northampton’s finest men’s welted footwear manufacturers, world class sourcing companies, the biggest brand names on the high street and some of the most talented and innovative new designers and emerging companies. BFA’s Board members lead companies with a combined turnover of over £4bn and bring depth of expertise to our activities.

Board Members

Dan Gyves BFA Chairman and Mahabis.com Ken Gray Managing Director T & A Footwear Ltd Robert Perkins Chief Operating Officer – Hotter Shoes Daniel Rubin Executive Chairman – The Dune Group Ltd Tim Cooper Managing Director – Oliver Sweeney Paul Savrimoothoo Global President and MD Lifestyle Division – Pentland Group Ltd William Church Joint Managing Director – Joseph Cheaney Mike Watson Smith Sourcing Director – Airwair International Rachel King Adult Product Development Manager at Clarks Vanessa Podmore CEO at Podmore Consulting