Clothing packers ensure that items of clothing are packed in the correct way ready for distribution. The type of packaging used depends on the type, value, fabric and destination of the garments.
Clothing packers may pack:
An automated packing machine may be used when packing mass-produced items. This can involve loading the machine with boxes, labels, and packaging materials, as well as the garments themselves. Clothing packers may also be involved in grouping different items according to a delivery note and then weighing and labeling the final package. Packers, especially those working with garment returns, may also be involved in quality control checks.
Some clothing packers will be required to operate computers to check records, print labels and record stock levels. Clothing packers are responsible for ensuring the customer receives their goods in a well-presented way. This is especially important for expensive items and branded goods.
Clothing packers usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, which can be in the form of irregular shift work. It is common for clothing packers to work day, evening, night and weekend shifts. Part-time work is also common and there may be opportunities to work overtime.
Clothing packers are usually based in factories and warehouses, which can be noisy. They may spend much of their time sitting or standing at a packing machine or conveyor line. The job involves a lot of standing, bending and walking. Protective clothing, such as overalls, gloves and headwear may be provided.
Starting salaries may be around £11,000 a year. A more experienced packer may earn around £13,000 a year.
Clothing packers with supervisory responsibilities may earn up to £20,000 a year.
In many jobs, packers are paid an hourly rate, which is usually around £6 per hour. Others may be paid a piece rate (a set amount for each item they pack).
Those working overtime hours may be paid more and some organisations have a bonus scheme.
Clothing packers are employed by a wide variety of organisations in the clothing industry. These include:
Some packing operations are becoming increasingly computerised. Clothing packing is generally a more specialised area of packing and so has been less affected by automation.
The number of jobs for clothing packers is stable and there are generally good opportunities for finding work, particularly in the warehousing, internet retailing and distribution sectors. The increasing use of the internet to sell clothing and offer home delivery to customers has ensured a steady demand for experienced packers, especially multi-skilled workers who are able to operate computers and machinery, as well as check items.
Job vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, Jobcentre Plus offices and Connexions centres and on specialist agency and employer websites.
Although no particular qualifications are needed to be a packer, it is helpful to have key skills and qualifications in practical subjects. Some companies ask for GCSE's (A*-C) in English and maths. Computer literacy is also increasingly important as the industry relies heavily on computer-based systems to record, monitor and dispatch stock. Some employers may give applicants an entry test to find out if they are good with their hands and can do the job quickly and accurately.
The Diploma in retail business may be useful for this area of work.
There is an Apprenticeship suitable for clothing packers in warehousing and storage.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Relevant qualifications include:
Training can vary depending on the employer. Some companies may run short introductory courses, covering health and safety, staff welfare and employment conditions.
Training in specific processes and machinery usually takes place on the job, under the supervision of a more experienced colleague. Clothing packers may also be trained to do other work, such as basic computer inputting, machine maintenance, general warehouse duties or lift truck operation.
Clothing packers can work towards a Level 1 or 2 NVQ for packaging operators. These cover packing principles for those working on automated or manual packing lines and health and safety issues. The Packaging Society offers training leading to a Diploma or Certificate in Packaging.
For clothing packers working in the removals industry, the British Association of Removers runs a variety of short courses, which includes training in packing.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
A clothing packer should:
Clothing packers may be able to progress to supervisory or training positions within the company.
They could also move into other areas of work, such as machine maintenance or quality control inspection. They may also be able to train in a different area of packing or to work as a textile operative or technician.
British Association of Removers (BAR),
Tangent House, 62 Exchange Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0TG
Tel: 01923 699480
The Packaging Society
Packing Industry Awarding Body Company (PIABC), The Boilerhouse,
Springfield Business Park, Caunt Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 7FZ
Tel: 01476 513880
Skillset, Focus Point,
21 Caledonian Road,
London N1 9GB
Tel: 020 7713 9800
Skills for Logistics,
12 Warren Yard, Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.