This week in Bradford three of the oldest Livery companies invited a select number of students from 21 different weave courses across the UK to join them at the Midland Hotel along with representatives from the British weaving industry including yarn spinners, weavers and finishers. With 24 hours packed with informative talks both from industry leaders and successful textile designers ( Margo Selby & Dashing Tweeds ) working in the textile industry, along with trips to the mills, the aim was to reach out and connect with the next generation of textile graduates to inform and engage them on the broad opportunities within the textile industry. With over 1000 graduates in textiles a year just from the UK art schools and universities alone, it is quite clear that only a select few will end up in design positions.

Seen as a traditional industry which struggles to recruit and retain skilled workers, this was a perfect example of how through connecting with the students, industry can engage and inform them of the many opportunities open in the broader areas of textiles. So many institutions focus on design and yet there are many avenues to build a career in textiles around colour, science, engineering, yarn creation and innovation. The owners of these mills personally took the time to speak with the students and guided them around their facilities. For many of the students this was the first time they had stepped into a mill.

What a great opportunity for both parties to connect. This is the fourth year the “Making It In Textiles” Conference has taken place and with much work behind the scenes to connect talented weave designers with organisations, let’s hope this continues for many years to come.

Thank you to the mills ( Pennine Weavers, Stanley Mills, Marton Mills, Roberts Dyers& Finishers, Antich & Sons, W T Johnston, A W Hainsworth, Alfred Brown, Abraham Moon, Laxtons Specialist Yarns) for opening their doors and to the Worshipful Company of Weavers, The Drapers Company, The Clothworkers Company and Campaign for Wool for making this conference happen. #textilefutures

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