Set up in partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education and the Sora Group consultancy, the Barbour Academy aims to revive interest in careers in the shrinking textile industry by delivering apprenticeships and employer-led skills.
The centre will provide bespoke training in technical skills for those currently employed or wishing to seek employment in the textile industry.
Students will also be trained in areas such as lean manufacturing, team working and skills applicable for the low carbon economy, to allow a more holistic appreciation of modern manufacturing practices.
The Academy will offer study programmes that cover oral, written, communication, technical, practical and management skills, alongside the chance to learn traditional textile skills such as pattern cutting, sampling and tailoring.
Situated on the first floor of Barbour’s South Shields factory, where the brand’s famous wax jacket is still made, the Barbour Academy will provide two ICT rooms, a teaching room and a practical machine area.
Students will be taught by staff from Hartlepool College, Barbour and the Sora Group.
All students will be guaranteed an interview with Barbour at the end of their studies, and will be given the opportunity to move onto the next level of their NVQ or apprenticeship should they wish to continue their studies.
Dame Margaret Barbour, chairman of J Barbour and Sons Ltd, said, “At Barbour, we’re committed to delivering quality, which is one of the reasons why we continue to make our core product, the wax jacket, at our factory here in South Shields. With the decline of manufacturing in the North East, we have struggled in the past to attract staff to positions at the factory.
‘We hope that the Barbour Academy will help to revive and sustain these skills in the region and offer employment opportunities to people in the North East who may not previously have considered a career in manufacturing.”
Andrew Steel, assistant principal of Hartlepool College, commented, “We believe the Barbour Academy has great potential to engage with people in the local area, offering new employment opportunities and reinvigorating the textiles sector in the region.”
Barbour has been operating in the North East since 1894. About 30% of its annual production is manufactured in South Shields.