Barbour opens training academy in South Shields

Barbour factory
Image caption Barbour has been based in the North East since its establishment in 1894

South Shields-based clothing brand Barbour has opened an academy in partnership with Hartlepool College.

The academy will offer apprenticeships, bespoke training and new skills to those working in or considering a career in the textile industry.

Located at the firm's South Shields factory, the academy offers training from Barbour and Hartlepool College staff as well as Sora Group personnel.

Barbour has guaranteed all students an interview at the end of their studies.

The 50 students taking part in academy courses will have the opportunity to learn a diverse range of practical skills, including pattern cutting, sampling and tailoring.

Study facilities at the academy include two IT suites, a teaching area and a practical machine area. In addition to hands-on practice, students, who receive no wages or expenses for participating in the scheme, will learn communication and management skills.

Students wishing to pursue their studies at the end of their courses will have the option of moving onto the next NVQ or apprenticeship level, while the company has guaranteed everyone an interview when their course concludes.

Barbour says that jobs will only be offered to candidates if there are positions available. The company has complained in the past that a lack of relevant expertise in the region had been a factor when deciding to establish manufacturing facilities overseas.

Dame Margaret Barbour, chair of J Barbour and Sons, said that the opening of the academy underlines the company's commitment to delivering quality.

She said: "With the decline of manufacturing in the North East, we have struggled in the past to attract staff to positions at the factory.

"We hope that the Barbour Academy will help to revive and sustain these skills in the region and offer employment opportunities to people in the North East who may not previously have considered a career in manufacturing."

'Reputation for quality'

Andrew Steel, assistant principal at Hartlepool College of Further Education said he was "delighted" to be working with Barbour.

He said: "Barbour has a great reputation for quality and we believe the Barbour Academy has great potential to engage with people in the local area, offering new employment opportunities and reinvigorating the textiles sector in the region."

Barbour has been present in the North East since its founding in 1894, and still manufactures its famous wax jacket at its South Shields facility.

More than 150 people work at the factory, while the company employs more than 400 people in the North East in total.

While Barbour's wax jackets are still made in the UK, the firm manufactures other garments at facilities in Bulgaria, Portugal and Turkey.

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