DAVID Heginbotham is just the sort of young person the textile and clothing industry wants to reach, writes Sue Jones. He left school with ambitions to be a computer programmer but had no intention of working in a textile factory. Now he says: "Once you're in, it's quite exciting."
After a family move from Lancashire to Yorkshire in 1993, he needed to earn some money and took the first job he could get, which happened to be at the Sirdar factory in Wakefield. Sorting and baling fibre for the spinners didn't challenge him for long. He wanted to use his brain as well as his hands, so he became assistant to the overlooker and then sought other opportunities.
The company gave him an apprenticeship, starting with a Business and Technology Education Council national certificate corse with day release at Bradford and Ilkley Community College, which runs well-established courses in manufacturing textiles using modern machinery, including a loom run by computer.
Although some trainees start at 16, many come later to improve their qualifications and prospects and the average age is over 20.
David, now 28, can see real possibilities for personal progress in the industry. The work is more challenging than he expected and he would like to progress into management.
He thinks that training is important. "You have to be able to deal with pressure and be in charge of people, so you need to know what you're talking about," he says.
The challenge for the industry is to attract more people like David to come in not by accident, but by design.