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The recent announcement in our trade press about the new developments in leather education and research at the University of Northampton was very welcome news. At the recent APLF Hong Kong Fair alumni and friends of the University were given a preview of the new plans, but were told that they were subject to obtaining final approval from the Local Authorities.
Last week's announcement confirmed this had happened and was widely acclaimed by all involved. A huge amount of work remains still to be done and the support and involvement of the industry is vital to see this through to its planned 2018 conclusion, yet this remains a memorable moment when we can put aside the doubts about the viability of the project.
In the past fifteen years the teaching and research at Northampton has been transformed. From old and staid in every aspect, it has been given hugely upgraded equipment, refurbished laboratories and teaching rooms, updated curriculum and a bright new generation of staff. With a range of short courses alongside the longer more traditional oneís, great efforts have been made to make a fit with industry needs. It is fitting that this will now be allowed to further progress as part of this new era for the University.
The supply chain in the leather industry has also evolved with the growth of large units, the changing role of meat packers, the luxury companies buying up tanneries to retain leather making skills and access to raw materials and tanners increasingly cutting leather for customers or to use certain grades themselves.
Increasingly, the University has included options to train general management, production engineering, waste management, environmental engineering as well as design and fashion alongside leather, transforming the opportunities available.
The arrangements being put together for the new leather school and the New Campus look to be a way to consolidate all these new ideas into the new facilities and a new structure. With Fashion, Waste Management and Leather now all under a Dean who has fifteen years or more of being interested in the success of leather training in Northampton we are placed to move forward.
This is a moment to be celebrated, and to get involved if you have not already done so. For a long time it looked like these sort of facilities would be completely lost in Europe which would have been a major disaster given the growing needs for skills and personnel.
24th May 2016
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