Apprentices in Textile and Manufacturing at Macclesfield College have been praised for their work by David Rutley MP and Ron Smart, a local silk business owner, upon the completion of their apprenticeship schemes.

The silk firm R.A. Smart opened a sewing room at their Bollington site in spring 2013, and now has a workforce of 19 people based in this facility – seven of whom have been employed through the scheme in partnership with Macclesfield College.

The students began by sewing cotton products, including aprons, tea towels and oven gloves, and will then learn how to sew silk once their skills have been more fully developed. Silk products made at R.A. Smart include ties and scarves, and the company are hoping to produce ladies fashion as a future stage of their business plan.

Ron Smart said at the presentation of certificates, “It is a great satisfaction to see these young people attain such a worthwhile qualification. The section of our business in which they work continues to flourish with the addition of customers such as Harrods, Churchill China, Roy Kirkham and many others, all of whom are happy for their products to carry the Made in England label. It is also very pleasing to report that much of the work we now produce was previously produced in low cost countries such as China.

“We will be doubling the size of our sewing room once again during the summer and autumn of this year to meet the increasing demand for our product. As a nation we lost at least one generation of sewing machinists, so together with Macclesfield College we can re-create the skills which our manufacturing industry requires. The extra space coming available in the autumn will enable us to recruit further groups of apprentices who can participate in this scheme.”

David added, “It is very encouraging to see local businesses such as R.A. Smart offering young people opportunities to develop skills in the work place, and also to learn how these apprentices are being trained to help keep our rich silk heritage alive. I would like to congratulate Ron and Macclesfield College for successfully creating this scheme, and of course, say well done to all the apprentices who completed the course.”

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