Weaving a Way
I guess Manchester's ability to bob and weave comes from our history at the centre of the world textile industry, and so if there was any danger of us losing those skills, the current revival of textile manufacture in the city is good news. Today's Council meeting began with a presentation from Lorna Fitzsimmons on the Alliance Project, something initiated by Lord Alliance, supported by the Combined Authority, and aiming to re-shore ( the opposite of off-shore ) textile manufacture to Manchester, East Lancs and West Yorkshire.
This is not fantasy, it's happening. There are currently at least 252 thriving textile manufacturing companies in Manchester alone, though no longer occupying vast mills. Most of them are micro-companies, the biggest employing no more than 85 people, but we aim to increase the number of overall jobs in the sector by 1000 in the next eighteen months. The growth is driven by the fashion industry with increased demand for faster turnaround of smaller but more regular orders. In the city-region we have the opportunity to have an end-to-end process with world leading textile research and one of the country's biggest and oldest schools of design alongside manufacturing, sales and distribution capacity but there are challenges. The biggest is probably skills coupled with an ageing workforce. We have to enthuse a new generation about the possibility of careers in textiles and we need to train them. Already one workplace academy is producing fifty skilled workers with another four in the pipeline. All very exciting and this is not the only manufacturing sector this is happening in.