A new GBP30,000 (US$37,700) initiative to help tackle the skill shortage in the UK's fashion industry has been launched in West Yorkshire, the region identified as the most condensed area for textile manufacturing in the UK.

Backed by an investment from the Textile Growth Fund, a new textile academy has been set up at Keighley College to provide skilled machinists for local firms.

The textile industry is worth GBP9bn to the UK economy, generating year-on-year growth. 

And the government predicts the booming sector could generate a further 15,000 new jobs over the next few years, as sourcing fabrics and apparel from the UK becomes ever more attractive.

However, a significant skills shortage urgently needs to be addressed if the sector is to repatriate and capitalise on future demands.

"There is huge potential to create for job opportunities for young people as local manufacturers and retailers look to increase capacity," explains Chris Stott, head of business engagement at West Yorkshire's Keighley College.

"The Textile Academy will ensure the industry in the region continues to thrive by providing a talented source of technically experienced workers."

The Stitch Society, an emerging new textile brand founded two years ago, is collaborating with the college to fill the growing skills gap. Its founder Charlotte Meek adds: "There is a definite resurgence in Yorkshire's textile industry and the need for an academy that will equip the market with talented, creative, people who are passionate and understand the full technical process.

"Graduates will be anything but 'run off the mill' when they step onto the shop floor of a local textile manufacture or design house."

Despite competition from overseas manufacturing, West Yorkshire's most respected mills have continued to produce the lion's-share of British fabric, still sourced by fashion houses and designers throughout the world.