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Shoemakers develop skills with SAFT training

Reporting on the recent footwear technologists’ course held in the UK.

by Stuart Morgan

Successful modern manufacturing processes rely on accurate practical information and the ability of staff to understand and apply such information. In a global and competitive marketplace, knowledge and skills are increasingly important. To address this issue, SATRA has designed the SATRA Accredited Footwear Technologist (SAFT) training course for all technologists involved in any aspect of footwear production.

A SAFT course was recently held at SATRA’s UK headquarters, with students attending from a number of countries. SAFT is an internationally recognised qualification, and is clear evidence that the recipient has a proven range of footwear knowledge. Students receive the most comprehensive and up-to-date information in six key areas of footwear manufacture. Each module is led by a SATRA specialist and covered in detail during two days of intensive training and includes comprehensive documentation.

On completion of the course, students have an opportunity to take optional written examinations, which are held twice a year. Passes must be achieved in five of the six modules for students to receive a SAFT accreditation. There is no need for all five examinations to be taken at one time, however, passes in all the papers must be obtained within two years to obtain accreditation.

The modules

Module one is a core section which covers lasts, fitting and comfort, and focuses on footwear from the customers’ perspective – what they expect from their shoes in terms of fit and comfort, and how the manufacturer can satisfy these expectations, to thus maximise sales and develop brand loyalty. This section investigates foot structure, function and foot health, biomechanics and the gait cycle, comfort factors such as cushioning and sweat management, shoe size systems used around the world, last design, construction and shape assessment, and fit assessment.

SAFT students receive two days intensive training

The second module – also a core part of the course – helps the student to understand materials (considering the key materials and components used in footwear), and construction – investigating common processes and less well-known methods.

Module three is on the testing of footwear. It starts with a discussion on ‘what is testing?’ and ‘why is testing important?’, as well as the use of specifications, accurate and detailed test reports and standard test methods. The module also provides an overview of the key tests which are carried out on footwear and materials, such as for upper and lining materials, solings and footwear components, in addition to whole shoe tests.

The fourth module covers product design – in which delegates will tape up a last, flatten the shell and produce inside, outside and mean forms, as well as making their own examples of graded patterns. The process of shoe costing will also be discussed, examining the way materials, labour and expenses are calculated to produce a final selling price. Module 4 also considers all aspects of lean manufacturing, covering implementation and techniques involved, including value-added and non-value-added processes, pattern engineering, the assessment of leather usage, shoe sizing/grading, stitching efficiency and ergonomics.

The final core part of the course is module five. This investigates risk assessment associated with product liability when the footwear fails or causes injury (or damage to property) in wear, with practical exercises in assessing the risks of specific footwear items. It also considers quality assurance, and will provide participants with an understanding of the purpose, organisation and content of a quality management system, in addition to an appreciation of how to apply this to the student’s own company needs.

SATRA trainer Mark Southam (standing on left) with the SAFT students who recently met in the UK

The sixth module looks at the requirements of industrial footwear as outlined in all the major industrial footwear specifications and standards. It will contrast and compare the various requirements, such as impact resistance and slip resistance, and review common faults and failures, as well as the precautions to be taken to avoid this happening.

The student’s view

One of the students was Andrea Wei, who is a senior technical designer at the ALDO Group. Commenting on the training programme, she said: “I chose the SAFT course because I wanted to learn about new technologies and validate my footwear knowledge against the industry standards, and who better to do this with than SATRA?

“Working at the wholesale division, I think being SAFT-certified enhances the client's confidence level in our products. It was also very interesting to network with the other attendees at the SAFT training. Learning about the different approach, benchmarks and materials from athletics and lifestyle brands are fascinating to me, having only worked in fashion brands.”

Another student, Phillip Cloros – brand manager at Victor Footwear – travelled from Australia to be trained in all six modules of the SAFT course. “I decided to take part in the SAFT course as there is no similar course or qualification available in Australia,” he remarked. “Our business has been a member of SATRA since the 1950s, and we recognise it as the leader in footwear testing and training. Since entering the business almost seven years ago, I have been able to gain significant knowledge in regards to footwear manufacturing and materials, but I was keen to learn more and solidify my existing knowledge with an accredited qualification.

Students are shown a wide variety of key tests for footwear materials, components and whole shoes

“By gaining an industry-recognised qualification, I wanted to advance my knowledge in all the different aspects involving footwear and what is required to become a footwear technologist,” he added. “I believe that continuously learning is important, and undertaking SAFT was the perfect way to gain a more technical knowledge of all the different aspects of footwear.”

According to Phillip, what he learned in the course has benefitted him and will be of value in his career. “Completing all six modules of the SAFT course has enabled me to gain an extensive knowledge of all aspects of footwear fitting, design, materials, constructions, testing, and QA,” he said. “As I move forward in my career, this will enable me to have a clearer understanding of all the above, while also helping me to make more informed and educated decisions regarding our products and all types of footwear in general.”

Also in the USA

In addition to being held in the UK, SAFT training also takes place in the USA, with the next sessions being held between October 9th and 24th in Boston, Massachusetts. Please email or visit for details.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 42 of the May 2017 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

Other articles from this issue »