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More Orders but Fewer Skilled Workers: What Brexit Means for Fashion


Whilst British businesses are relocating their manufacturing back to home soil, the number of skilled workers in Britain has fallen.

In an Instagram post by makeitbritish, (image right) it was highlighted that “in the last few years the UK has seen a spate of businesses bringing manufacturing back home”. These businesses include Clarks Shoes, TD Tom Davies, Roy’s Boys Socks and Trunki Travel’s suitcases.

However, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, the number of skilled workers in the UK has reached “crisis level”. This could spell problems for the fashion industry when it comes to its skilled labour base.

Many argue that Brexit could be responsible for this slump in skilled labour, with the Independent stating that almost one million EU citizens working in the UK, many of whom are highly qualified, are planning to either leave the country or have already decided to do so following Brexit.

The Independent has also commented that a survey, “which sampled 2,000 EU citizens working in the UK and 1,000 EU citizens from the ten countries most likely to supply EU labour” found that “50 per cent of people felt less welcome since the referendum”.

Karen Briggs, Head of Brexit at the auditors KPMG, has commented thatwe expect to see increased competition for talent between employers over the coming years, and numerous firms seeking to supplement their workforce with AI, robotics and automation”.

As far as fashion is concerned, the increased competition for talent between employers means that there will be more demand for skilled workers post Brexit. Further to Karen Briggs’s comments, the use of AI and automation puts skilled workers even more at risk, especially on production lines where skilled mechanists and designers are highly valuable.

In response to this, a report published by the Fashion Roundtable entitled Brexit and the Impact on the Fashion Industry, highlighted that 96% of industry leaders and business owners in the fashion industry would vote to remain given the chance of a second referendum.

In the same report, it was mentioned that 880,000 people in the UK are directly employed by the fashion industry, a figure which breaks down to 1 in 74. This figure could well fall post-Brexit as the number of skilled labourers from overseas but working in Britain leave as previously mentioned.

Orders in the FashionCapital factory are on the up, but the number of skilled production workers in the UK as a whole is on the decline. It is hoped that by providing in-house training, FashionCapital will be able to provide some stability for young designers and workers when starting their careers.

(The Factory in North London)

In terms of training for those wanting to get into the fashion industry amidst the possible void being created by Brexit; FashionCapital has their on-site Fashion Technology Academy (FTA). It is a perfect environment for people to gain the skills and qualifications required to be successful in the garment manufacturing industry.

Despite worries that AI and machines may replace qualified and skilled assembly-line workers, the training provided by FashionCapital can help those looking to get started in the fashion industry get some experience and knowledge to begin their career and fill these vacancies being created in lieu of the Brexit vote.

For more information on their FTA, head here.

By Callum Cliffe

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