Designing the National Skills Agenda in Fashion Manufacturing

Speaking at the Make it British ‘Meet the Manufacturer’ event in London, Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of luxury clothing business David Nieper Ltd announced that the Derbyshire fashion house has become a national trailblazer for the government’s apprenticeship drive in fashion and textiles.  

The industry’s vocational qualifications including NVQs and BTECs, are being replaced by a new system where employers take the lead and set the criteria against which apprentices must develop their skills and benchmark success.

David Nieper has a 55 year heritage of making fine British fashion, with an extensive collection created every season including luxury knitwear, day wear, swimwear and night wear making them an ideal business to determine the skills requirement for the sector, and set the National Apprenticeship Standard.

The family business is currently working with Chesterfield College and the New Economy in Manchester to set the standard across three specialist job roles including; sewing machinist, pattern cutter and garment technologist. Once set, all fashion and textiles apprentices in the UK, training for these roles will be assessed against the new trailblazer standard.

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director of David Nieper Ltd commented:

 “Traditional apprenticeships have always involved experienced people passing their skills to future generations.   Our aim with the Trailblazer is to pool ‘best practice’ from successful companies for the benefit of all British fashion manufacturing.  Our aim is to provide the technical expertise for Britain’s future National Apprenticeship standards.”

As an employer we have fashion and textile students apply for jobs in our sewing rooms but often their training simply isn’t up to scratch. So getting involved in setting the standards means we can take control to ensure apprentices possess the right skills and aptitude to do the job.”



The National Apprenticeship Standard officially sets out the competencies an apprentice must display by job role, and provide a point of reference on their progression. Apprentices must demonstrate the appropriate level of skills, knowledge and behaviours appropriate to each specific job role to gain their qualification.

As one of the few fashion designers that have always produced in the UK, David Nieper has prioritised training to allow specialist skills to be passed from experienced staff onto the young generation and apprentices have played vital role in this.

So, when the government announced a change in the way UK apprenticeships were to be funded   through the apprenticeship levy, David Nieper Ltd saw an opportunity to get the most out of the scheme and take control of developing of apprenticeships that worked better for business.


For further information contact:

David Nieper Press Office, Lauraine Jordan 07904 257687

[email protected]