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During the last two years work has been underway in the British leather industry to collaborate on the creation of a new apprenticeship standard for this sector. To quote the Institute of Apprenticeships “Set within an industry steeped in tradition, the leather trade supports the pursuit of excellence in its traditional craft skills whilst also embracing innovation and technology. The leather craftsperson is a fundamental occupational role in the leather trade and in a sector that contributes in excess of £700 million to the British economy”.

The remainder of this article was written by Rob Billington, Supply Chain Director for Mulberry in his announcement to the collaborating partners:

“With the confirmation of the funding band at £5,000 and with the final changes agreed, you can now go ahead and recruit and engage apprentices in the training as laid out in the Leather Craftsperson StandardI would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to a few people;

Kerry Senior (UK Leather Federation) kicked the whole thing off back in March 2016 and was instrumental in pulling us all together as an industry. If it wasn’t for his vision, networking and powers of persuasion, we would never have started on the journey. As UKLF have kindly agreed to become the EPA organisation for our standard, they will also see this initiative through to the end when they sign off our first apprentices on the new standard.

Despite quickly establishing the employer trailblazer group and agreeing our approach, we initially struggled with our interface with the IfA. When Steve Potter was then appointed as our Relationship Manager, we were lucky enough to have someone who brought clarity, gave effective guidance, helped us navigate through the red tape and represented the needs of the group.

And finally, John West of UKFT. The notion that this whole initiative can and should be employer led is folly. John did all of the heavy lifting and without his knowledge, drive, enthusiasm and diplomacy we would still be struggling to make progress. The concurrent involvement of John with the addition of the Saddlers to the group gave us the impetus and capability to bring this to a conclusion. A very successful few months indeed.

As employers within the group, the batten now passes to you. Thank you all for your support and patience throughout the process. We have created something that can strengthen the leather industry within the UK, but only if you get out there and recruit the young people whose new-found skills we will need to secure the future of our industry”.