UK footwear industry launches new apprenticeship scheme

Posted on 22 Jun 2018 by Jonny Williamson

The British footwear industry has launched a new nationally accredited apprenticeship standard for the autumn this year.

The manufacturing part of the footwear industry employs 4,000 people – image courtesy of Loake Shoemaker.

The new apprenticeship has been designed by employers to be flexible and offers high-quality entry-level training and experience to those interested in joining a highly skilled industry.

Created in association with the Institute for Apprenticeships, the scheme will typically last between 12 and 15 months.

Firms involved in developing the standard include Loake Brothers, New Balance, Hotter, Church’s, Dr Martens, Crockett & Jones and Joseph Cheaney & Sons.

Potential recruits should approach the company they wish to work for directly or formally register interest with Northampton College, West Lancashire College and London Capel Manor College.

Robert Perkins, British Footwear Association board member and chief operating officer at Hotter, the UK’s largest footwear manufacturer, said: “We want to offer a high-quality entry point to new recruits in a role that opens the door to a career in production and shoe-making.

“There is a great appetite to grow UK production and developing our skill base is crucial to our future.”

Stephen Bent, UK production manager for Dr Martens, added: “This is a great industry that offers more career opportunities than people realise. We need supervisors, managers, and skilled makers like clickers and closers going forwards.

“This scheme provides a hands-on, earn while you learn option. 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 employers so a qualified apprentice will be a very employable person.”

There are around 30 larger factories and 10 to 100 smaller specialist businesses manufacturing and making shoes in the UK. Collectively they manufactured around 6 million pairs of shoes in 2017, with a value of £400m, up from 5.6 million in 2016. The manufacturing part of the footwear industry employs 4,000 people.