TALENT SCOUTING: Following its annual Graduate Preview Day — a one-day event that allows industry professionals to view the works of fashion college students — the British Fashion Council has outlined a series of educational initiatives for the coming year.

They include a new apprenticeship program; a scholarship fund for students in need of financial support and an educational initiative that will allow high-school students aged 14 to 16 to study fashion for free at their local college on Saturdays. One of the biggest aims of the program is to offer career paths in other areas of the industry, not just design.

“The BFC is dedicated to securing future talent and establishing pathways through education and into employment. This includes working with global fashion players and businesses to support scholarships and competitions to support the most talented design students,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC.

“We also recognize that institutionalized education and specific design courses are not for everyone. We are so pleased to announce a new apprenticeship program that will help young people to learn about all areas of the fashion industry and also the Saturday Clubs, which will provide even younger people with the opportunity to learn about the fashion industry,” she continued.

The fashion studio assistant apprenticeship will be launched in October, and students will be taking a six-month general course followed by 12 months focused on businesses including production development, sales or communications and marketing.

The University of Arts London will be the awarding body of the apprenticeship.

The BFC is also working alongside the Sorrell Foundation to create the Fashion and Business Saturday Clubs, which will give younger students the opportunity to explore different areas of the industry with the aim of inspiring them to pursue further education. The Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Brighton are among the institutions involved in the initiative. Participating students will have access to activities such as exhibition visits, meetings with industry professionals and master classes.

“A lot of young people are interested in clothing, it’s where they start their interest in creativity. The idea of the Saturday Club is to show 14 to 16 year olds pathways into different sides of the creative industries so they can discover new opportunities,” said Lady Frances Sorrell, head of the Sorrell Foundation.

In addition, the Exceptional Talent Scholarship aims to provide financial support to students experiencing unexpected financial difficulty, as identified by their tutors.

Meribeth Parker and Sarah Mower, copresident of the BFC’s Education Pillar, also announced the winners of four design competitions as part of Graduate Preview Day.

Rhys McKenna, from the Edinburgh School of Art, was the laureate of the Burberry design competition. The British luxury label asked students to explore the idea of collaboration across different sectors of the industry and awarded McKenna with 2,000 pounds, or $2,875 at current exchange, as well as a three-month placement in the company.

Eppuyar Hunt, a student at Manchester Metropolitan University who won the Jigsaw competition, will work with the high street retailer to produce one of her garments, which will then be sold as part of its fall 2016 collection.

Hollie France from Northumbria University and Jonathan Preston Moore of the Edinburgh School of Art also won two paid internships as part of Topshop’s graduate design program.

The Anne Tyrell MBE Outstanding Portfolio award recognized the work of two students from the Royal College of Art.

Both the educational initiatives and the awards that mark the efforts of young talent are helping to achieve a pledge made earlier this year by Natalie Massenet, chairman of the BFC, of raising 10 million pounds, or $14 million, over the next 10 years to invest in London’s creative talent.

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