What keeps them here is not only their passion for the craft that is rooted in over 230 years of history but more importantly to ensure that the skills they have developed over so many years are not lost but shared with new generations to come. It’s for this reason that the company is devoted to recruiting and training new staff to learn the skills that will ensure that each John Smedley sweater can continue to be proudly Made in Great Britain.
Here at John Smedley we’re extremely proud of our talented and committed team some of whom have worked with us for over 40 years.
A large part of our training programmes involve developing apprenticeship schemes for under 25 year olds, these can vary from 12 months to 3 year programmes ranging from machine mechanics to marketing. As our Operations Director, Mick O’Hanlon puts it, “It’s essential to any company to encourage young people to drive the business forward, we need to assure we train people to be the business leaders of the future”. John Smedley are passionate about reaching out to the surrounding communities, recruiting locally and not just looking at an individual’s experience, “It’s about looking for those who have the passion to work
and to learn, if you have that then you’re already half way there” says Mike. Such apprenticeship programmes are currently ensuring someone like Ken, one of our Fully Fashioned Knitters with over 46 years experience here has the opportunity to pass on his knowledge before he retires. Training to become a Fully Fashioned Knitter takes three years, the first of which is taken up with learning the mechanics of these huge machines before attempting to do any knitting. As such roles have dramatically depleted in this country over the years it’s also a unique opportunity for new employees to learn a craft that will be a skill of life and hopefully a job for life.
As much as John Smedley is dedicated to encouraging an influx of young employees there are also training programmes for over 25s, with a current emphasis on recruiting and training seamers. Seaming forms a vital role in the process of creating a John Smedley sweater and it’s essential that any new recruits are trained to a very high standard. Training begins in a quiet side room in the factory where Fay, our seaming trainer with over 17 years experience supports new staff by showing them every stage of this process in minute detail. The walls of the room are adorned with guides on the purpose for each and every pedal and thread.
When trainees reach the desired level of excellence they can finally move into the main factory floor but will still continue to receive daily support, it will usually take well over a year to develop the speed of the other experienced seamstress’.
The longevity of the craft here ensures the enduring quality of each John Smedley garment. When you purchase a sweater you’re not only buying quality built on 230 years worth of experience but also the passion of a new generation of craftsmen and women.