Level 2 Material Cutter Apprenticeship

Entry requirements: Entry requirements: Entry requirements will be a matter for individual employers; typically, an apprentice might be expected to have already achieved an appropriate level of English and Maths (GCSE grades C or above).


English and Maths

English and maths qualifications form a mandatory part of all apprenticeships and must be completed before an apprentice can pass through gateway.

Total length of course: 12 months with minimum 20% off the job training

Overview of the role

Cut specified material components by hand or machine using templates or measurements and then prepare the components for assembly.

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in manufacturing, producing fashion and textile items using various fabrics and materials such as canvas, cotton, leather, silk, vinyl, wool, woven and non-woven. Production ranges from bespoke to mass-produced items, including handbags, shoes, clothing, tents, industrial textiles, and numerous homeware products. Employers vary in size from micro to large.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to cut specified material components by hand or machine using templates or measurements and then prepare the components for assembly. In preparation for cutting, a material cutter will select the materials following instructions, check the materials for quality issues, and plan, measure and calculate material usage, ensuring waste minimalisation. They are then ready to cut components to meet the required quality, quantity, and specifications. They ensure effective handover to the next stage, including bundling and labelling and completing records and documentation such as production/cutting sheets or work dockets. Material cutters are also responsible for dealing with quality issues and providing re-cuts as requested by the production team. To keep the process running smoothly, they maintain specialist machines and equipment, such as changing blades and chains, sharpening shears and blades, cleaning and removing lint, and maintaining automated tables/machines.

Material cutters work in a production environment, often in a dedicated cutting room. They must have an eye for detail and be able to distinguish between colours and patterns. The role can be physically demanding, involving lifting heavy rolls of fabric and standing for long periods of time.

An employee in this occupation will cut materials to meet production targets and quality standards, ensuring a continuous supply of cut components for the next stage. They also need to achieve and maintain consistent standards about material waste and time management. They are central to the efficiency and effectiveness of production; once the material has been cut, little can be done to rectify serious mistakes, and any errors will lead to problems at the assembly stage; minimising waste and ‘re-cuts’ is critical. All work must be completed in line with health, safety and environmental regulations and considerations. They must wear personal protective equipment,

such as a chain mail glove and safety goggles, and follow workplace safety rules in the cutting room.

Occupation duties


Duty 1: Receive, read and interpret cutting instructions/job sheet and plan the days cutting schedule. Cutting instructions may include material specifications, code number, quantity required, sizes, colour, style number, number of pattern pieces, customer details, a lay plan, and marker length.

Duty 2: Select the material to be cut, check against the job sheet/specification and material availability and report any shortages. Transport material to the cutting table/area safely.

Duty 3: Estimate/calculate material requirements and prepare materials for cutting for example, material relaxation, material spreading, laying/ fabric stack ensuring fabric pile and print is considered if appropriate.

Duty 4: Inspect material to ensure it meets quality standards, identifying and reporting flaws and faults such as shading, holes, overprint, scruffs, fibre structure and marks.

Duty 5: Apply the pattern/marker or the given measurements to the prepared material. Transfer marks and notches to the material using the appropriate tool, such as drill markers, punch perforators, or cloth notches.

Duty 6: Following the markings, cut material using hand or automated equipment, for example shears, band knife, cross cutter, lay-end cutter, or automatic cutting system. Ensuring all instructions are followed, for example grain lines, pairs and quantities and material wastage is minimal.

Duty 7: Report issues relating to quality, quantity, templates, specifications, workload, equipment, plans and deadlines.

Duty 8: Conduct first line preventative maintenance on cutting equipment to ensure the efficient performance of tools, for example checking, cleaning, sharpening or changing blades.

Duty 9: Identify, bundle and label the cut components in order to pass onto the next stage of the manufacturing process, for example sorting, fusing, bonding, stitching.

Duty 10: Complete documentation relating to the cutting process for example work docket, work ticket, job/production sheet.

Duty 11: Support continuous improvement activity.



K1: The material cutters role, responsibilities, and position within the wider production operation.

K2: Operational insight: types of products produced and types of customers (clothing, home wear, retailers, bespoke).

K3: The end to end production process, quality requirements, deadlines and targets, performance rates (efficiency).

K4: Commercial considerations (efficiency, material cost, production costs).

K5: Health and Safety: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Manual Handling, Risk Assessments, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (Chain mail gloves), machine guards.

K6: Environment and sustainability; Environmental Protection Act 1990, consequences of waste disposal (landfill), energy efficiency.

K7: Work-station ergonomics; posture and positioning whilst cutting.

K8: Workload planning for example scheduling and prioritisation.

K9: The construction, behaviour and appropriate use of different types of materials: canvas, leather, silk, vinyl, woollens.

K10: Material characteristics: quality, colour, pattern, print, pile, correct side.

K11: Material matching techniques for stripes, checks, pattern repeat, print placement.

K12: Material faults and fault tolerances; shading, discoloration, print error, holes, marks.

K13: Component shapes and product parts.

K14: Cutting specifications and instructions; the number to be cut, grain line, size, pairs.

K15: Mathematical techniques for cutting, measuring and calculating meterage.

K16: Measuring tools, equipment and techniques.

K17: Material spreading and transferring information requirements; darts, ease, pocket positions.

K18: Lay planning and pattern placement techniques; manual and machine.

K19: Manual and machine cutting techniques; quality check requirements.

K20: Material cutting machines and equipment: knives, cutting machines, press, scissors; their purpose.

K21: The consequence of machine/equipment mis-use – accidents, machine isolation.

K22: First line preventative maintenance requirements: checking, cleaning, sharpening, or changing blades.

K23: Re-cut request procedures and the re-cut process.

K24: Continuous improvement techniques: lean, 6-Sigma, KAIZEN, 5S (Sort, Set In order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain).

K25: Documentation requirements and their purpose: specification sheets, work records, labels.

K26: Verbal and written communication techniques.

K27: Material cutter terminology: ease, pairs, grain, right side.

K28: Team working techniques and benefits.

K29: Equality and Diversity in the workplace.


S1: Read, interpret, and follow information for example work instructions, material specifications.

S2: Prepare the work area for cutting materials.

S3: Maintain the work area.

S4: Follow health and safety regulations, legislation and procedures; PPE, manual handling, lifting procedures and ergonomic practice.

S5: Follow environmental and sustainability regulations and procedures.

S6: Estimate and calculate material requirements to complete the job.

S7: Select material following specification or instruction.

S8: Inspect materials against specifications and quality standard.

S9: Check lay plan.

S10: Prepare materials for cutting for example lay and spread material.

S11: Select, check and use tools/equipment for the task.

S12: Cut material by hand and/or machine for example band knife, shears, laser.

S13: Check quality of the lay post cut for example waste minimised, grain, component positioning, colour continuity.

S14: Check cut components.

S15: Prepare material for the next stage of the production process for example bundling, labelling.

S16: Identify and segregate material for reuse, recycling and disposal.

S17: Check and clean tools and equipment and sharpen or change blades as required.

S18: Report cutting issues for example material faults, equipment faults shortages, required recuts, lay plan.

S19: Apply continuous improvement techniques.

S20: Communicate with colleagues: verbal.

S21: Enter information – written or electronic.


B1: Prioritises health, safety and the environment, for example follows safe ergonomic practices, ensures safety and welfare of self and others and adopts environmental working practices.

B2: Uses own initiative, for example when dealing with material faults and flaws.

B3: Adaptable and flexible, for example in response to changes in priorities and work deadlines.

B4: Team player, for example keeps others informed, interacts proactively, considers impact of actions on others, and takes account of equality and diversity.

B5: Takes ownership and responsibility, for example seeks to meet quality targets, completes allocated work on time, escalates issues.

B6: Professional, for example polite and courteous, a good timekeeper, has a positive can-do attitude.

The Assessment

The three methods of assessment are:

• Observation with questions

• Interview underpinned by a Portfolio of Evidence

• Multiple-choice Test

Institute for Apprenticeships (IFATE) website link: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/media/7334/st0899_material_cutter_l2_ap-for-publication-adj-22072021em.pdf
Skills & Education Group End Point Assessment website link: https://skillsandeducationgroupawards.co.uk/epa/level-2-material-cutter/

This course is available at:

  • London Haringey Campus
  • Leicester Campus
  • Wales Campus
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