Reporter 454, 19 June 2000


Hopes pinned on plan for textiles

The Government’s 12-point plan to support the UK’s beleaguered textile and clothing industries is to include funding for a research and development initiative involving the University’s School of Textile Industries.

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers and Employment Minister Margaret Hodge jointly announced the policy initiative earlier this month following a daunting report from the Textile and Clothing Strategy Group, a forum representing employers and unions in the sector along with academic experts.

The report identified diversification and innovation as the essential elements in helping the industries improve their competitiveness and respond to changes in the world economy. Job losses in the sector are currently running at 40,000 a year, with the strength of sterling putting a squeeze on exports and retail chains increasingly sourcing their goods overseas.

A key part of the Government’s strategy is funding a Faraday Partnership to encourage collaboration between leading Universities, research organisations and industry to work on new products and processes. Apart from Leeds, the universities involved are UMIST and Heriot-Watt, which will be joined in the partnership by the British Textiles Technology Group.

The funding terms are to be announced toward the end of the month. Up to 100 firms in the sector are expected to be involved in research, education and training projects under the aegis of the partnership.

Support for the development of technical textiles, such as ‘smart fabrics’ with built-in information and communication capacities, was also pledged in the Government announcement.

The Textile & Clothing Strategy Group report is available on the website of the Department for Trade & Industry: http://www.dti.gov.uk

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