Career Options in Footwear Technology
Ranjan K Baruah
Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which originally serves the purpose of protection against adversities of the environment, usually regarding ground textures and temperature. Footwear in the manner of shoes therefore primarily serves the purpose of easing locomotion and preventing injuries. Secondly, footwear can also be used for fashion and adornment as well as to indicate the status or rank of the person within a social structure. Footwear has been in use since earliest human history, archaeological finds of complete shoes date back to the copper age (ca. 5.000 BCE). Some ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, however, saw no practical need for footwear due to convenient climatic and landscape situations and used shoes primarily as ornaments and as insignia of power.
As footwear is important, there are numerous options and career opportunities related to footwear technology or footwear designing, apart from others like branding or selling footwear. Footwear Technology deals with every bit of preparation of footwear. It works upon designing of footwear to the study of the materials to be used, structure of the footwear and different types of footwear. The footwear industry has lately become one of the most lucrative career options because of the momentous rise in the demand and variety of footwear. Many international players have come into the picture. Footwearhas also created a slot for themselves in the import and the export market of the nation. Footwear technology also studies raw materials such as plastic, canvas, fabric, leather, rubber as an essential part of its curriculum.
Footwear technology or footwear designing is a unique career and it needs lot of skills, apart from degrees or diplomas. We can easily see cobblers in many areas and some of them are adept at making new footwear apart from repairing the old ones. But as time is changing and the demand for new designs is everywhere around us, things have changed in comparison with what used to be the norm a few decades back. Footwear designingrequires a blend of artistic talent and creativity. It has come a long way from traditional shoemakers cutting and stitching leather, to specialised professionals utilising modern technology, working at high tech laboratories, on sophisticated machines, experimenting with a varied range of materials – from leather, plastic, canvas, jute, rubber and even cloth.
Footwear Designers create new styles of footwear, keeping in mind the popular demand in the markets and also the demands of individual clients. The footwear industry has a range of jobs and incorporates a number of skills, comprising of research and development, design, manufacturing operations, sales and marketing, quality control and management. There are different courses in this field which includes certificate courses, diploma courses, graduate and postgraduate diploma courses, etc. Advanced diploma course in footwear technology required the candidate to be a graduate in any stream or diploma holder in leather, engineering or footwear technology. For engineering degree like B Tech, students must be from a science stream. Admission to most of these courses is conducted through entrance examinations.
The Leather Design Program at NIFT is unique in its structure and application to the Fashion, Footwear and Accessories Industry. Initially focussed on leather products, in tune with changing times the programme now encompasses the areas of Fashion goods, Personal Lifestyle accessories and Footwear across the four campuses of Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Raebareli. Emphasis is laid on the integration of design concepts with material knowledge. A multidisciplinary approach and exposure to the industry through field trips, tannery training, Craft Cluster programs, Industry internship and Graduation Projects are an integral part of the curriculum whereby students explore and innovate with materials, Techniques, Forms and components.
Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) also offers various courses. ranging from degree to diploma related to footwear technology apart from courses related to leather technology. CLRI India was founded on 24 April, 1948. It was a landmark decision of the country born at the mid- night of 15th August 1947, to invest into leather research. In 1947, the export basket of India included mostly raw hides and skins. There remained an untapped opportunity for India in leather sector for economic development, employment generation and export earnings. The missing link was addition of technology to the manufacturing base of Indian leather sector. CLRI was founded to develop an internal strength in the country to generate, assimilate and innovate technologies for leather sector.
Courses in these subjects include Certificate Course in Footwear Design and Production, Certificate Course in Footwear Technology, Certificate Course in Shoe Designing and Pattern Cutting, Computer Aided Shoe Designing, Bachelor of Design (B.DES.) Leather Design, Diploma in Footwear Designing and Production, Diploma in Footwear Technology (DFT), Diploma in Leather Goods and Accessories Design (DLGAD), Post Graduate Diploma in Footwear Technology, Shoe Production, etc. Students from Assam and other north-eastern States may also plan their careers in this sector.
FDDI: Footwear Design & Development Institute was established in 1986, under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India with the following major objectives: to Develop Human Resources within the country by imparting appropriate knowledge and skills to promote the rapid growth of footwear and allied industry in the country; to provide and develop appropriate infrastructure for the Indian footwear industry to enable it attain international standards of production and to particularly promote the growth of export production of quality footwear and allied products from the country. FDDI is playing a key role in imparting education, facilitating the Indian industry by bridging the skill gap in the areas of Footwear, Leather Accessory & life style product, and because of its continuous contribution towards nation building, FDDI has been granted the status of "An Institution of National Importance" under the FDDI Act 2017.
It is a premier academic and training institution dedicated to the development and growth of the Footwear & Product, Leather Products, Retail and Fashion Merchandise and Fashion Design sectors. FDDI has Pan India Presence with 12 state-of art campuses spread across the country. It offers Bachelor and Master degree programmes in the areas of Footwear Design & Production, Production and Management and Retail & Fashion Merchandise, Leather Goods and Accessories Design and Fashion Design, besides offering short term Industry specific programmes. FDDI shall conduct All India Selection Test at various centres across India. Interested students may apply on or before 2nd April. Exam would be held on 27th, 28th and 29th April.
(Ranjan K Baruah is a social activist and career mentor who has conducted career awareness programme in different parts of Assam and Northeast India and can be reached at email@example.com or 8473943734 for any career related queries)