Chancellor’s focus on skills in the Autumn Statement welcomed at David Nieper

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of Derbyshire fashion house David Nieper has welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s focus on skills and apprenticeships in the Autumn statement, but said that he hopes an allowance will be made for companies that already invest heavily in developing skills and training.

The Chancellor in his statement today said that the shortfall of skills in the British economy ‘is one of the enduring weakness of the British economy.’ The Chancellor set a 0.5% apprenticeship levy, which is to be paid by employers with a payroll of over £3 million.

David Nieper will be required to pay the levy, but already currently invests 5% of payroll in skills, more than ten times what the Chancellor has set.

Fashion has been one of the biggest casualties in UK manufacturing, with the majority of designers taking production overseas for cheaper labour, this has left a huge skills gap in the industry and a massive shortage of people who can actually make clothes.

This year the David Nieper fashion house has reported a 7% increase in sales, however performance is still being stalled and sales have flattened in the last quarter due to not being able to find enough skilled staff to cope with product demand.

David Nieper is a family run business and has been designing and manufacturing clothes for over 50 years. The company which employs over 230 staff including designers, garment cutters, seamstresses and dressmakers has always been committed to developing local skills and creating local jobs, however faces an ongoing struggle to recruit skilled workers.

To help remedy the situation, earlier this year David Nieper set up its own apprenticeship scheme in the form of a sewing school, whereby experienced machinists train and pass on specialist skills to a younger generation.

The first wave of sewing school apprentices have now achieved the desired skills levels and are now in full time employment at David Nieper and the company is once more recruiting for sewing school trainees.

Christopher who has today been included in The Manufacturer Top 100 list commented:

“We welcome the focus on skills and training within the spending review which is vital to the growth of UK manufacturing and ultimately the economy, however we already invest ten times more than the rate set by the Chancellor in skills.

It would have been encouraging to see a more incentivising scheme for employers rather then a payroll tax, however we hope the finance raised through the levy will go directly to apprenticeships rather the administrating the scheme.