Fashion – Enter Develops Interactive Digital Resource with the UFI
Fashion-Enter Ltd and the Fashion Technology Academy (FTA) have been working with the UFI Charitable Trust on a series of technical skills videos. UFI VocTech Trust became a grant-funding body following the sale of Learndirect in 2010. With an initial fund of £50m, the Trust is focussed on delivering an increase in the scale of vocational learning. The Trust supports the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology with the aim to use funding to catalyse change across the UK so that significant scale can be achieved in digital vocational learning for adults.
Working in collaboration Fashion-Enter and the UFI have created a pilot interactive digital resource to support learners to develop the technical skills needed for the modern garment manufacturing industry. Modules from a Skills and Education Group (SEG) Level 1 qualification were converted into digital learning content, with interactive assessment processes embedded.
Analysis of the data shows that the concept more broadly has the potential to promote the rapid development of learners’ technical proficiency through interactive self-assessment. Along with aiding the learners’ ability to repeat theory/technical processes as their practice develops and orientate new employees and school leavers to the industry.
The concept has the future potential to be developed for different types of garment manufacturers, providers of clothing as well as colleges of FE and higher education. For example, one of the team has already discussed concept development for school leavers with a large manufacturer in Derbyshire. The Programme was led by Fashion-Enter Ltd and commissioned UCL Institute of Education to provide continuous support for the Programme team and undertake a progress and final evaluation report.
Most of the Programme was undertaken before the COVID-19 lock down, however the final evaluation of the Programme was impacted by the closure of FE colleges and the furloughing of apprentices working in the sector. To support the fight against COVID-19, Fashion-Enter diverted their normal production of garments to focus on government requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), yet they successfully continued with the UFI VocTech Programme.
Digital learning within vocational programmes of study is common but developing the technical skills of apprentices, new employees and leaners on programmes of study, within a garment factory setting, is novel. Teaching technical skills for the garment manufacturing industry has traditionally been based on learning through practice, a combination of on-the-job and off-the-job learning and mentoring in the workplace.
Looking to the future, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require companies and employees, to become more flexible, creative and quickly learn and adapt to the new skills required. Fashion-Enter is a leading training provider for Levels 1 – 5 qualifications, including apprenticeships and in-house programmes, in technical garment construction. The company identified a need for digital resources that provide additional support and assessment for learners, as they grappled with the skills to work within a modern factory setting and earn qualifications. They also wanted to attract a new generation of professional stitchers that are technical savvy and of the digital age.
The skills shortage in the UK is widely reported and is set to grow in the coming years, as a result of Brexit and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Edge, 2018). Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment and Skills Policy at the
British Chamber of Commerce said that there is: “…persistent and pervasive skills shortages in the economy. Firms across all sizes, sectors and regions are struggling to find the skills and labour they need to fill job vacancies, damaging not only the individual firms, but also the wider supply chain.” This challenge is compounded by the current COVID-19 situation.
Traditional digital and social media platforms such as YouTube, provide learners with access to numerous step-by-step guides to areas such as fashion, design, garment construction and the creative industries. However, there are few digital and interactive resources that provide accessibility to step-by-step technical skills and assessment within an ethical, audited, manufacturing environment that complies to stringent health and safety rules. Since the beginning of lockdown and social distancing online learning has never been so important and the digital resources developed with UFI VocTech Trust are interactive, clear and easy to follow.
Fashion-Enter CEO Jenny Holloway comments: “It’s all about technical skills! If Covid-19 has taught us anything it is the importance of videos, digital platforms and a new way of learning. This why we are so delighted with the resulting videos from the UFI Charitable Trust project.
“We have now gone live with the interactive videos that also have a unique way of learning by deliberately showing how not to thread a machine or work safely. The videos allow the user to stop and confirm where the processes are wrong so it just embeds learning and provides a new dimension.
“Very grateful thanks to Caroline O’Donnell of the UFI Trust who was invaluable with her guidance, Ian Morris and Steve Reynolds and of course the amazing Julia Jeanes who was the independent researcher from the Institute of Education. And to all the people that inputted including Daniel Haines, Technical Director at ASOS, Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, Kathryn O’Driscol, Consultant and Caren Downie, Ex-Buying Director at ASOS. That was one awesome team!”
With so much valuable industry input the pilot project was completed six-months early and has proved a great success. Fashion-Enter is now looking forward to the next round of funding in order to develop and expand this new style interactive video and embed this enriched learning within the industry curriculum.
Tap the links to view the videos via YouTube:
UFI Charitable Trust – Fashion Technical News Level 1 Safe Working
UFI Charitable Trust – Fashion Technical News Level 1 Threading A Flatbed Machine
Tap the link below to view the full report: Developing Technical Skills Through Learning for the Garment Manufacturing Industry.