Women workers in the British fashion and textiles industry are being offered extra training to develop their skills and climb the career ladder to higher-level jobs.

The special initiative called Women & Work is run by Skillfast-UK, the Sector Skills Council for fashion and textiles, and its aim is to increase earning potential and raise recruitment levels in sectors where women are under-represented.

Grants of up to GBP600 (US$992) are available for each female employee.

The programme is open to all sizes of company - and major names such as Courtaulds and Per Una are among the larger firms who have already benefited from earlier phases of the scheme.

So far 1600 women have improved their skills under the Women & Work programme, which is open to fashion and textiles businesses, and their employees, based in England.