MANUFACTURING is alive and well in Keighley.

That's the message from the town's college, which is encouraging firms to further promote opportunities available for young people in the industry.

Chris Stott, the college's head of business engagement, said there had been huge growth in apprenticeships at the campus.

But he feared there was still a misconception about manufacturing and what it offered.

"There are some fantastic opportunities for employment in the local manufacturing sector through apprenticeships," said Mr Stott.

"However, many people – including parents and guardians – are unaware that manufacturing is very much alive and well in the Aire Valley and accounts for a quarter of jobs in Keighley.

"The industry is no longer the dark, noisy, dirty world it once was. It is clean and noise-free and using some of the latest technologies.

"We really need manufacturers to be shouting more about the great things that are going on and the possibilities this offers young people."

He said the college worked in partnership with businesses to develop the qualifications and delivery they required, which had resulted in the growth in apprenticeships and an increase in employment opportunities.

Among the partnerships is one with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, which is providing more than a hundred apprenticeships over a three-year period.

It is also working with textile companies including JTS Cushions and Fibreline, and the Job Centre, to train long-term unemployed people in sewing and cutting skills and fill a skills gap in the sector.

And the college – in collaboration with companies such as Gesipa, Byworth Boilers, Airedale Springs, Keighley Laboratories and Acorn Stairlifts, which are staging open evenings and factory tours – is promoting engineering to schools.

Mr Stott said investment was continuing across many areas at the college.

"Fabrication and welding now offers welder coding and certification and this year has been equipped with state-of-the art TIG and MIG equipment," he added.

"Our new textile academy has over £30,000 of sewing and cutting equipment that matches the best available in the industry and we have brought back textile apprenticeships to the college for the first time in 30 years.

"We are now looking at growing and broadening the engineering offer for September 2018 and will also be providing higher-level apprenticeships in the near future.

"We currently have some excellent apprenticeship opportunities with great local employers."

There are engineering apprenticeship vacancies at companies including beer pumps producer England Worthside in Keighley and Skipton-based Principle Healthcare, which manufactures nutritional supplements.

Plus, there is the chance of a textile apprenticeship with Specialised Covers in Shipley, which manufactures car covers for some of the most luxurious vehicles in the world.

For more details, visit or call 01535 685035.