Level 4 Product Technologist Apprenticeship (Standard Level 4)
The Fashion & Textiles Product Technologist Apprenticeship Standard is a 22 month course which provides a deep understanding of the role and skills of a Product Technologist. This can lead to excellent career prospects with the current trend with reshoring of production back to the UK has created more demand for this exciting career. There is currently a shortage of industry trained Product Technologists in the Fashion and Textiles sector.
This apprenticeship comprises of both formal learning on site at the Fashion Technology Academy and work-based learning with your employer. With the support of a training provider units can be selected to create a tailored training package suitable for the required role at your place of work.
Apprenticeship Standard for Fashion & Textiles Product Technologist
This occupation is found in sewn product manufacturers, footwear manufacturers, brands and retailers. They can be involved in the production of a wide range and variety of products, from clothing and fashion to leather goods, shoes, soft furnishings, marine and medical textiles.
The broad purpose of the occupation is to provide technical support throughout the product development process and ensure approved samples with specifications; production instructions and production patterns are in place so the manufacturing process can commence and be completed by the required date and within budget.
In their daily work, an employee in this occupation could interact with designers, senior managers buyers, merchandisers, warehouse managers, pattern cutters, sample machinists, quality control and production managers, and customers; this will depend on the size of the company. They will be responsible for technical and commercial elements of the product development cycle in fast moving environment. In larger firms product technologists may work within a team, in smaller firms the product technologist will experience a significant degree of autonomy.
Product technologist typical duties include:
- Evaluating new product designs
- Supporting the production of sewn product samples
- Sample review, evaluation and approval
- Producing product specifications and production instructions
- Identifying suitable materials and accessories
- Analysing product returns and faults
- Supporting the production and distribution processes
- Costing and budget management
- Quality assurance and control
- Conduct product risk assessments
Knowledge: Product Technologists have knowledge and understanding of:
Supply chain and customer base:
- Different customer requirements e.g. quality standards, product finish, timescale
- Brand standards and ethics
- The supply chain; management systems and considerations e.g. sourcing methods service level agreements, problem solving, availability of materials, late deliveries, cost increases
Materials used in production:
- The properties, behaviour and characteristics of raw materials
- Fabric and trim analysis to meet design briefs e.g. the function, performance, aesthetics
- Contingency planning e.g. alternative materials, buttons, trim
- Testing of materials for suitability in relation to design and function e.g. tension, compression, bending, durability, ductility, impact, creep, wash and fatigue tests
- Product labelling e.g. regulations, care, size, fibre content
The product and production process:
- Production and material costs
- Industrial machines and other equipment relevant to the production of products including specialist machinery e.g. cover stitch machines, buttonholers, jigs, blind hemmers,
- Different manufacturing, procurement and distribution methods
- Plan production schedules and workloads to meet targets and deadlines
- The end- to-end main product production process (pattern production, cutting, manufacturing, quality checking, packing and distribution
- The product life cycle e.g. the period over which an item is developed, brought to market and eventually removed from the market
- Continual improvement in relation to product and production processes
- Critical path management processes relevant to product production
- Review and evaluation of product designs e.g. style, feasibility, cost, fit, size, body shape, foot mechanics
- Product specifications, quality and compliance requirements
- Pattern production, sizes, grading and cutting techniques e.g. pattern drafting, sizing, lay planning
- Manufacturing techniques e.g. assembly sequence, construction methods
- Different types of product samples e.g. fit, samples proto samples, production samples
- The sample analysis and review process e.g. fit sessions, user trails, measurements, design and pattern assessment
- Sample sealing systems e.g. blue, silver, gold seal
- Risk assessment processes e.g. risk related to safety, colour, cost, time, process
- Overseas manufacturing implications e.g. lead times, minimum quotes, costs, legislation
- Returns and faults analysis and the impact of faulty products on future business
- Logistics and distribution systems e.g. costs, storage, shipping, legislation
- Information Technology (IT) and administration systems used e.g. tracking systems, production management systems, CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing)
Quality assurance procedures:
- Quality standards and specifications for production e.g. seam types, stitch types, tolerances, product finish
- Fault finding, diagnosis and rectification procedures e.g. poor fit, sizing, construction or finish
- Quality approval systems and control processes e.g. Inspection of materials and products during production, checks against specifications, spot checks, end checks
- International and British quality standards in relation to the manufacture of products e.g. British Standard Institute (BSI), International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO)
- Communication techniques, across all levels and departments involved in the sales, manufacturing and distribution process
- Technical documents/records and electronic systems and the consequence of incorrectly completed records e.g. tech-packs, specifications, tracking, review notes, product history
Policies and procedures:
- Health, safety, welfare and environmental policies, safe working practices and risks relevant to a sewn product working environment
- Employer and employee legal obligations, employees’ rights and responsibilities, equality and diversity
- Legislation and regulations e.g. social and ethical compliance, import regulations, safety regulations, trade regulations, duties and tariffs
Skills: Product Technologists can:
Develop and review samples:
- Analyse, evaluate and cost the production of given designs and identify possible constraints
- Develop samples that meets design, end use and specifications.
- Contribute to fit sessions and production meetings
- Analyse product samples with focus on quality, fit , risk and production processes e.g. size, shape, materials, timescales and costs
- Carry out product risk assessments e.g. safety, colour, cost, time, fitness for purpose, production process
- Approve samples and allocate sample seal if appropriate, maintaining a complete history of the sealing process
- Oversee material and product tests and analyse test results e.g. performance, function, wash, wearer/user trials
- Develop product tech-packs e.g. specifications, working drawings, measurements, labelling, quality standards, tolerances, materials
- Ensure legislation and regulation requirements are met e.g. social and ethical compliance, import regulations, safety regulations, trade regulations
Deal with product faults and returns:
- Conduct product reviews on returned products
- Analyse product returns and identify potential solutions e.g. change materials, re-cut pattern
- Complete analysis reports
- Manage quality problems and eradicate potential issues e.g. fabric, trim, construction faults
- Contribute to the solution of production issues e.g. thread breakage, missing components
- Work with the warehouse and distribution systems and processes to ensure, safe, punctual delivery of products
- Use relevant communication systems and accurately complete work records
Behaviour: Product Technologists:
- Take ownership and accept of responsibility for product technology work
- Strive to improve product quality, production processes and production systems
- Are responsive to changing priorities and requirements of the product industry, demonstrating initiative, confidence and self-motivation
- Work positively as part of a team, taking account of equality and diversity
- Build effective internal and external working relationships, networking across all levels and departments
- Have a methodical and calm approach to workplace pressure, deadlines and production demands
- Are assertive, resilient and confident when communicating views and ideas that will benefit the product design and manufacturing process
- Are reflective on skills, knowledge and behaviours and seek opportunities to develop and advance skills in response to the evolving production environment and technologies
- Have a safety first attitude, ensuring the safety of self and others as appropriate in a sewn product manufacturing environment
Duration: Typically 22 months
Entry requirements: Entry requirements will be a matter for individual employers, typically an apprentice might be expected to have already achieved an appropriate level of English and maths (GCSE grades C or above)
English and maths: Individuals without Level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to end-point assessment.
For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3.
British Sign Language qualification is an alternative to English qualifications for those whom this is their primary language.
“During my apprenticeship I worked for womenswear designer Marios Schwab in London as the studio assistant. I learnt hand on skills and worked as part of a busy studio, working on collections we then showed at London Fashion Week. After completing my apprenticeship I was offered a job and stayed on for another year.
After this I moved to Nanjing, China where I worked in a factory for a UK supplier as the Sample Room Coordinator. I managed the menswear sample room, overseeing a team of machinists and pattern cutters to ensure all development samples were made to a high standard for customer meetings.
In September 2018, I will start my MBA in Fashion Business at the IFA in Paris.
Without the apprenticeship I know I would not be where I am now. It has been integral in my career progression and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do it!”