The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) has established a relationship with Fiji’s key stakeholders and employees in the garment industry, with the introduction of its new Fashion program. The seven month pilot program which began in March, 2014 in Suva, is an industry based program that seeks to develop the skills of employees from this growing and vibrant sector.
According to APTC Chief Executive Officer, Denise O’Brien acknowledged that “the partnership between the APTC and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Council of Fiji (TCFC) supports the industry with the introduction of the Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology in response to the growing demand for technical skills for the garment manufacturing and burgeoning fashion industry in Fiji”.
Program trainer Jodie Araya says the program, which has been designed to help improve the performance of participants within their respective workplace, is doing very well despite being in its early stages. She noted that there was a positive mix of both male and female employees who held different roles within the workplace.
Jodie also mentioned that the students, who have been employed in the industry for some time, have responded positively to the training, and have said that they understand more about the different processes involved in the manufacturing of textiles and garments from the start to the end of the process.
“Fiji has the infrastructure to manufacture but designing is still in its early stages. The idea of Made-in-Fiji is brilliant, and Fiji has a wonderful atmosphere for creativity, and this is an opportunity for local garment manufacturers to seize,” she said.
She added that there is a very big market for fashion design, especially with the increased enthusiasm around and recognition of Fiji Fashion Week as a key event in Fiji’s social scene. Fiji Fashion Week holds an annual week-long event which provides a platform to showcase local designers and their designs.
Jodie said that students also learn from each other, they all have different backgrounds and specialised skills, for example, “some work with flame resistant fabric and the other students end up learning more about fabric content”.
The program focuses on design, pattern-making, sewing, and quality aspects to help students understand the actual processes involved in designing, and having the ability to become more familiar with the garment.
The pilot program is currently being carried out in the workplace, with the initial intake of participants being employees of Mark One Apparel. Mark One Apparel CAD Room Manager, Sashi Vimlesh Singh, a participant in the program acknowledged the benefits of the program to himself as an employee and to his industry saying, “we are grateful to have an overseas trainer teaching us, and drawing our attention to our own potential which we could use to compete with the overseas market.”
While there is the challenge of finding resources in the country, the employers that APTC has been fortunate to work with have been very helpful. APTC works with its partners and the various industries they represent, to respond to demand for skills, offering courses that develop real skills for real jobs.