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How to become a Textile Operative

textile operative careers

What does a Textile Operative do?

Textile operatives work in the production areas of textile factories, doing a number of different jobs, including cleaning and operating machinery. They oversee machines during the manufacturing processes to make sure they are running smoothly, and check the supply of material into and out of machines. They make minor adjustments to machinery and call on technicians to deal with machinery faults and breakdowns. See Textile Technician profile.

They work in four main production areas of textile factories:

  • fibre preparation - where the fibres are combed, cleaned and carded, then twisted into a rope-like length called a sliver
  • spinning - which takes place on automated machinery, drawing and twisting the sliver, and winding it on to bobbins or cones
  • fabric production - which can involve weaving, knitting or looping threads together
  • dyeing and finishing - including processes such as printing, and treating fabrics to give a particular appearance or quality such as stain or crease resistance.

What's the working environment like working as a Textile Operative?

Hours of work vary between 37 hours and 40 hours a week and may include shift work or overtime. Most modern textile factories are light and airy. Some processes do make the atmosphere hot, humid and noisy.

Textile operators spend most of their time standing or moving around the production area. Protective clothing is worn where necessary.

What does it take to become a Textile Operative?

To be a textile operative you should:

  • have good practical ability
  • be able to concentrate for long periods
  • have clear eyesight and for some jobs, normal colour vision
  • be able to carry out routine tasks conscientiously
  • be able to work as part of a team
  • have good communication skills
  • have a responsible attitude to health and safety
  • be reasonably fit.

Textile Operative Career Opportunities

Four fifths of textile, apparel and footwear manufacturers employ 10 people or less, so opportunities for progression may be limited by restrictions on company training budgets. In larger organisations, operatives may be able to train up to level 3 and gain technician status. Other options include sales and marketing, design or supply chain management.

There is a trend for production processes to be shifted overseas, with more technical roles remaining in the UK. With this in mind, operatives who can develop their skills into related areas, such as those mentioned above, are likely to enjoy the best prospects.

There is scope for self-employment within the industry, for instance, production of specialist/luxury items or footwear and leather goods repair.

Further information

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Richmond House
Lawnswood Business Park
Redvers Close
LS16 6RD

Courses to help you become a Textile Operative