Rachel Garwood, Director, Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, University of Northampton
The UK leather industry needs to adapt if it is to maintain its reputation for innovation and excellence.
The advent of new technologies and a skills gap in the workforce of tomorrow means the industry is facing challenges. But the University of Northampton is taking the lead as it seeks to help this proud, traditional industry future-proof itself and maintain its standing on the global stage.
Northamptonshire’s proud tradition of leathermaking dates back almost half a millennia, and the county still enjoys a reputation for being one of Europe’s centres for the industry. This explains why the University of Northampton is the only university in the UK to have a working tannery which delivers both highly skilled graduates and researchers.
The University’s Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT) is working closely with industry on sustainability, which is a huge growth area, developing innovative new ways of working that the industry can adopt.
Opening young people’s eyes to the opportunities within the leather industry is another key target for the university. Think of leather and most young people would automatically associate it with fashion and design, but there’s a huge demand for graduates with knowledge of leather science and technology – something the university provides.
In this video, University of Northampton Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford, discusses the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry with ICLT Director Rachel Garwood and emeritus Professor of Leather Science, Professor Tony Covington.