Fashion and textile manufacturers are being urged to play role in shaping industry's future by taking part in regional focus groups on the new National Occupational Standards (NOS) that will outline the essential skills for sustainable manufacturing and operations.

Training provider Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media which includes the fashion and textile sector, is consulting with as many employers, unions and trade bodies as possible to ensure that the new Standards reflect the needs of all parts of the industry.

The NOS provide a clear description of what people need to be able to do in order to perform their job competently. They can be used to support organisational development, recruitment and selection, job descriptions and specifications, and to identify training needs.

Sustainability is a growing area for the fashion and textiles sector due to increasing legislation, the need to reduce production costs and changing consumer attitudes. Meeting environmental challenges will impact manufacturing firms in a variety of ways, affecting the availability of raw materials, transportation costs, energy and water use and the effective disposal of waste.

To cope with these changes, the sector will increasingly require individuals with new skills, such as understanding how legislation and sustainability impacts upon businesses, and how to effectively respond to these demands.

"These developments present our industry with both challenges and opportunities," explains Skillset's chief executive, Dinah Caine. "We want to make sure that the voice of the industry is heard in these consultations so that these Standards are as relevant and useful as possible."

Skillset is holding regional focus groups this week and next, as well as an online consultation in mid-October. To take part, click here to contact Skillset development manager Verity-Gay Hardy.