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Texprint in new creative skills initiative

29 July 2014 by Roger Tredre in Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Job opportunities for young textile and print designers look set to improve thanks to a new partnership between government and industry supported by Texprint.

The new initiative, backed by the UK government, could be hugely beneficial for young textile and print designers seeking to launch their careers.

The concept works like this: The government will provide funding for up to £183,000 to Texprint over the next two years, with roughly half of that money allocated specifically for a paid internship scheme for up to 20 designers.

For each designer, the government will contribute £4,750 on condition that the sum is matched by the employer. That means subsidised internships worth £9,500.

The concept is known as the Employer Ownership Pilot Round 2 (EOP2), a rather unwieldy title that disguises the bold and important nature of the initiative. The UK government likes to point out that the UK creative industries generate £71bn in revenue each year and support 1.71m jobs. Business Secretary Vince Cable says: "The creative industries play a key role in the UK economy."

Designer Emma J Shipley, a high-profile alumna of Texprint, says: "This is fantastic news for Texprint and means they’ll be able to offer even more support for talented textile graduates. Internships are one of the best ways of starting out in the industry and it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the very best in new textile design talent.”

Shipley found herself hobnobbing with government ministers at the high-profile launch at Channel 4 on July 14. The ministers were a little nervy – jumpy even. There was an explanation: Prime Minister David Cameron was in the middle of his Cabinet reshuffle. That's why Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, and Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills & Enterprise, were never far from their mobile phones while they waited for updates.

We learned later that both 'survived' the reshuffle – indeed, they prospered. Vaizey's role has been expanded to include digital industries, while Hancock has celebrated a promotion to Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy.

That they took time out on the eve of learning about their new roles emphasised the importance of the initiative, which they have both championed. David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4, which is leading the project of behalf of over 400 creative industry partners in the scheme, explained that the initiative is creating internships right across the creative sector. "It's a fragmented set of industries that has [previously] struggled to speak to government with one voice… This is the largest collaboration ever achieved across the creative industries."

David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4

Now Texprint is reaching out to companies right across the textiles sector to support the initiative. Barbara Kennington, Texprint chairman, said: "We're very pleased that the value of textile design has been recognised by Create UK… Over the next two years up to 20 design graduates will be matched with both UK and international manufacturers and retailers to expand their hands-on experience of the industry."

At the heart of the initiative is a collective desire to see the widest diversity of young textile design graduates develop careers in the industry. Overnight success is not on offer: it's about enabling designers to gain a foothold in their chosen career. Government minister Matthew Hancock acknowledges that the first step in a career is always the toughest. The transition from university or college to work is exceptionally demanding. "It's hard to get a job without having been in a job."

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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