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UKFT Apprenticeship Spotlight: Leather Craftsperson


Kate Lockyer is currently a Level 2 Leather Craftsperson apprentice at British luxury accessories and lifestyle brand Mulberry.

When I left school at 16 I knew I enjoyed and had a talent for textiles and design. Shortly after leaving school I applied for a job as a craftsperson at Mulberry, which I enjoyed for over two years as a stitcher. I left briefly to follow other interests I had wanted to pursue, but was pulled back just over five years ago for my love of my job here at Mulberry.

I wanted to undertake the training as I was interested in learning more about the processes involved in producing leather. I wanted to gain a greater knowledge of the tanning process, and how the leathers are graded and dyed by using different methods, producing the final product we use here at Mulberry.

My experience so far has been fantastic. In the short time I’ve been on the course I have learnt so much about the industry I work in, which I didn’t know before.

The best bit of the course so far has been learning about the processes the hides go though at the tannery. There are two main ways of tanning. The first is natural veg tanning which is dyed and preserved using natural products such as tree bark or vegetable matter. The other is chrome tanning which dyes and preserves the hides using chemicals.

For me the most unexpected part of the course so far was learning about all the different areas of health safety and risk assessments that are undertaken here at Mulberry.

By undertaking the course and gaining further knowledge of leather and the industry I work in, I would like to progress to be more involved in the first stages of developing the bags we make here at Mulberry.

Find out more

‘Leather craftsperson’ is a broad description of someone who either produces the leather or manufactures leather goods for a number of markets from sporting pursuits, such as equestrian, golf and cricket applications, to high-end retail luxury goods, such as handbags luggage and lifestyle accessories.

The Standard is designed to give an overarching range of skills, knowledge and behaviours appropriate to both the production of leather and the manufacture of leather goods. The former involving taking raw skin and hides and converting them through chemical and mechanical processing, to produce leather ready for a variety of applications. The latter involving taking leather and forming a finished product from it, often involving processes such as stitching and cutting.

Apprenticeship details

Employers involved in creating the standard: Mulberry, Pittards PLC, Cirencester Saddlers, The Saddlers Den, Ideal Saddle Company, Frank Baines Saddlery Ltd, Charles F Stead & Co Ltd, The Clayton Leather Group, Joseph Clayton & Sons (Chesterfield) Ltd, J&E Sedgwick & Co Ltd, Owen Barry Ltd, Amandian Ltd, Royal Opera House, Thomas Ware & Sons Ltd, Hutchings & Harding Ltd, Blenkinsop Leathers Ltd, Globetrotter, Cambridge Satchel Company, Price Western Leather Company Ltd, Leather Satchel Co

Training providers offering the standard: Bridgwater & Taunton College, Saddlery Training Centre (Haddon Training)

Maximum funding: £5,000

Duration: 15 months

External Quality Assurance Provider: UKFT

Read more here: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/leather-craftsperson/

UKFT is working to raise the skills and productivity of the people who work in our industry to the highest level, ensuring the UK fashion and textile sector remains competitive against global competition. During National Apprenticeship Week, we will be profiling some of the new apprenticeship standards that we have co-ordinated since UKFT became Sector Skills Body for the Fashion & Textiles industry.

Find out more here.