IT may not be a career that immediately springs to mind.

Mills dubbed ‘dark and satanic’ in the famous song Jerusalem left many with the perception of manufacturing as a gruelling livelihood worked in tough conditions.

Bradford’s skyline was once dominated by chimneys belching out plumes of smoke from the daily grind and cloaking this one time wool capital of the world in a constant smog.

The loss of the mills, the smoke and the smog may lead people to believe manufacturing here is a thing of the past, yet it is very much alive.

Workforces dotted around the city and district are doing what they have always done best - contributing to the economy with workforces very often staffed by generations of the same family.

The quality of the fabrics still produced in Bradford and beyond is evident in the calibre of clients from Royalty to the fashion runway.

Though the cloth halls where textiles were traded have been re-configured - Bradford’s iconic Wool Exchange is home to retail outlets including Waterstones and The Piece Hall in Halifax is now a cultural and commercial centre following a multi-million pound refurbishment, demand for textiles is increasing.

This resurgence, and the clamour for British-made brands, has brought a new dilemma for manufacturers - bridging the skills gap that has crept up predominantly through the loss of expertise due to retirement.

“Because of the skills shortage manufacturers are struggling to attract people into manufacturing and it is becoming more and more critical as the manufacturing population age increases the young blood is not coming through,” explains Guy Foster, business adviser for the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

He explains many may be put off manufacturing because of their perception prompted by the image of old fashioned Victorian mills.

“It is seen as Victorian mills and old fashioned and not see as the high end technological stuff that is going on around Leeds and Bradford,” says Guy, referring to the some of the region’s industries that are making an impact both locally and globally.

“It is hugely diverse. We have one of the biggest food production plants in Bradford and a firm that makes pieces that go on to the Dreamliner aeroplane,” adds Guy.

He also refers to the cyclist clothing company tailor-making garments with the assistance of a 3D body scanner. “That is incredible,” says Guy.

Predominantly aimed at local schools, the first Bradford Manufacturing Week (October 8 to 12) aims to raise the profile of manufacturing as a potential career and showcase the modern and vibrant working environment it offers.

“Manufacturing is growing, it is doing very well as a sector in West Yorkshire,” says Guy.

The problem many firms are facing is replacing the skill when their ageing workforce retire.

Two years ago Keighley College launched its Textile Academy where Charlotte Meek is now passing on her sewing expertise to students.

Charlotte, who runs The Stitch Society creating handmade aprons, explains the aim of the course was to help plug the skills shortage in the textile industry identified by the Alliance Project.

She explains while Britain now has a healthy textile industry, the previous lack of investment and opportunity to study textiles at schools and colleges has contributed to the situation.

With investment, and the availability of courses such as the one she is helping to deliver within the Textile Academy, the situation is now being addressed and demand is evident in the number of jobs available.

“There are still a lot of jobs that need filling. People are starting to hear about us word of mouth. The more word gets out the better it will be for the college, manufacturers and the community,” adds Charlotte.

Steve Shrimpton, managing director of Keighley-based JTS Cushions, manufacturers of cushions and soft seating and incorporating Extreme Lounging, helped to identify the skills shortage which led to the establishment of the Textile Academy in his home town.

He is keen to see more machinists trained up - Steve has already employed some of the students in his family business.

“We are definitely making some traction to be able to get the skill set right and that is partly to do with the Academy and how we talk about business - it is not the dark satanic mills. It’s a great culture and a business that has a slick operation,” says Steve.

Visit Twitter: @BradfordMfg. To find out more about the courses at the Textile Academy visit or call 01535 685000.