Leather craftsperson

Occupation overview

Set within an industry steeped in tradition, the leather trade supports the pursuit of excellence in its traditional craft skills whilst also embracing innovation and technology. The leather craftsperson is a fundamental occupational role in the leather trade and in a sector that contributes in excess of £700 million to the British economy.

British leather and leather products have an international and iconic reputation and the continued success of the sector will depend on maintaining a skilled, well-trained workforce.

‘Leather craftsperson’ is a broad description of someone who either produces the leather or manufactures leather goods for a number of markets from sporting pursuits, such as
equestrian, golf and cricket applications, to high-end retail luxury goods, such as handbags luggage and lifestyle accessories.

An employee in this occupation may work in a small enterprise producing or manufacturing specialist leather / leathergoods or in a wider factory setting as part of a production or manufacturing team producing to larger orders. They will be able to work just as effectively on their own or as part of a wider team. In both instances they will understand the impact of their role on those working around them.

The Standard is designed to give an overarching range of skills, knowledge and behaviours appropriate to both the production of leather and the manufacture of leather goods. The former involving taking raw skin and hides and converting them through chemical and mechanical processing, to produce leather ready for a variety of applications. The latter involving taking leather and forming a finished product from it, often involving processes such as stitching and cutting.

Regardless of which methods the employers’ use, leather craftspeople will know and understand the end-to-end process of how leather is produced and the manufacturing processes required to produce a final leathergoods product.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for working efficiently and accurately to agreed product specifications and customer requirements, using both hand and machine skills, within agreed production deadlines and to the required quality standard. In their daily work they will report to line managers and supervisors and often will interact with production colleagues. Typical working pattern is Monday to Friday.

Typical day-to-day duties may include:

  • The production of leather (processing and finishing);
  • Quality check materials and components for faults;
  • Leather cutting operations;
  • Skive materials (shaving/reducing weight) ready for next stage of production;
  • Prepare materials ready for next stage of production;
  • Ink / paint raw / cut leathers edge;
  • Hand / Machine sew leather components and where applicable assembles the components to produce the finished product;
  • Examine finished leather / leather product for quality;
  • Repair and/or rework leather/leather goods;
  • Package product and label for onward journey.

Skills

  • Comply with personal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other safety legislation.
  • Use equipment in accordance with safe operating procedures and manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Dispose safely of waste and surplus materials.
  • Identify the correct tools and equipment and use appropriately such as Moisture content testing meter, Thickness measurement gauge, Trimming knives & shears, Edge tools, Pricking iron, Skiving machine and Bench splitter.
  • Carry out running maintenance within agreed schedules to ensure the efficiency of machinery, tools and equipment (i.e. settings and preparation of tools) to meet production expectations.
  • Read and interpret data from specifications and appropriate work instructions.
  • Follow instructions in order to meet customer and company requirements.
  • Implement efficient and effective use of materials by closely following instructions and minimizing waste.
  • Undertake processes to maintain a consistent speed and quality requirements as outlined by the company.
  • Communicate effectively with internal/external customers, colleagues and managers and work as part of a team.
  • Effectively self-manage their time and workload to meet deadlines.

Knowledge

  • How Health and Safety legislation applies to their role including those specific to noise, chemicals, fire, dust, working time regulations, safe processes, manual handling, safety management, hazard identification and risk assessment in the work area.
  • The impact of processes on the environment, the efficient use of resources, recycling, reuse and the safe disposal of all types of waste (i.e. ISO 14001 Environmental Management).
  • Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) regulations, including storage and handling of hides.
  • Tools, equipment and machinery used with a range of materials for leather production processing such as Moisture content testing meter, Thickness measurement gauge, Trimming knives & shears, Edge tools, Pricking iron, Skiving machine and Bench splitter.
  • The identification and correction of production problems such as machinery not working correctly and associated corrective actions.
  • How machinery innovations have improved leather manufacture techniques and processes (i.e. building on heritage skill, rather than replacing).
  • The characteristics, properties and behaviours of a variety of materials and components used in leather production and their suitable application (i.e. chemicals used in retainage).
  • Leatherworking practices and importance that leather manufacture has on the economy.
  • The ‘end-to-end’ processes from raw material to finished leather goods product.
  • Leather terminology and its use in the workplace.
  • How to recognise faults in materials and components (i.e. surface scars, flaws, faults and damage in the leather grain surface).
  • The heritage of UK leather manufacturing, its products and quality standards associated with their role (i.e. ISO 9001 Quality Management).
  • The importance of a cost-effective workflow.
  • Different manufacturing theories and methods (i.e. lean, JIT and bulking)

Behaviours

  • Reliability and dependability to consistently deliver expectations in production, quality, work ethics and self-development.
  • Accountability, to follow the specified procedures and controls and be personally responsible for their production work and personal development.
  • Recognise and appreciate equality and diversity in the workplace.
  • A questioning attitude, to understand the processes and associated industrial applications.
  • Intervention, to challenge poor practices and channel feedback to the appropriate authorities to implement change.

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to take the tests for this level prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Duration

Duration (months): 15

Professional Qualifications/Recognition

This is a level 2 qualification.

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

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