FURTHER education bosses in Keighley say new funding secured in the town will soon be giving a much-needed boost to the local textile industry.

A £30,000 investment from the Textile Growth Fund is enabling a new textile academy to be launched at Keighley College this week.

The college has worked with local employers to successfully apply for the funding, that will provide opportunities for unemployed people to fill growing skills gaps.

A spokesman for the college said: "Keighley was originally a thriving centre for textiles and weaving, and was at the heart of wool and cotton processing and textile-machinery manufacture before its slow decline.

"Now, Keighley College will offer training with state-of-the-art equipment including nine industrial sewing machines, a five-metre cutting table and industrial cutting knives.

"Students will complete a four-week course that will cover employability skills, work experience, and hands-on sessions with the latest industrial equipment.

"At the end of the programme, students will be offered a guaranteed job interview with a local employer, such as college partners Fibreline or JTS Cushions, and the ability to progress onto a full apprenticeship."

The academy is expected to create 80 new jobs and apprenticeships during the next two years.

As previously reported in the Keighley News, it is being set up to meet a growing demand for skilled machinists.

Chris Stott, who is head of business engagement at the college, said: “Keighley College is reacting to meet the needs of employers in a flexible manner, and we are optimistic about what the academy will bring to the local community.

"This is a unique provision that nobody else is offering at apprenticeship level, and we aim to be a leading provider within the textile industry for the local area.

“A former student at the college and owner of The Stitch Society, Charlotte Meek, will be one of the tutors on the course.

"Her enthusiasm and expertise has helped to lead the project, ensuring the best provision and equipment is in place."

Celia Thornley, head of skills at the Alliance Project/Textile Growth Fund, said: “We are proud and excited to support the new Textiles Academy, which has the potential to create local jobs in response to rising demand for UK manufactured textiles products.

“It is great to see this partnership between the college and local employers, resulting in the development of a facility that will deliver the training and skills textile employers need.

"This resource will not only help to address immediate skills shortages within the Keighley area, but in a wider context support the growth and repatriation of the UK textiles sector.”

The Textile Academy is due to open its doors at the college this Friday. (January 20)