15/03/2019 – Series: Stars of the Future – Part 2 — auf Deutsch lesen
Go Textile? Go digital!
They blog, post and take photos. About what? The world of textiles and education.
Filming at a small back-yard studio near Stuttgart. Melissa, Noel and Makai, the presenters, are now well-known members of their community. They are here today because they are shooting several YouTube videos to show the world how digital the future of the textiles industry is. Their films will launch online at the same time as the textile-network “Stars of the Future” series. Melissa, who has just completed her apprenticeship at Amann & Söhne, a manufacturer of industrial, sewing and embroidery threads based in Bönnigheim in Baden-Württemberg, is even prepared to stand in the rain for the shoot. She does this to explain how non-wovens fitted with sensors can save the lives of dike builders. The item the presenters get most excited about, however, is a T-Shirt with integrated ECG functionality. How can Noel best demonstrate what makes his heart race and the wires inside the garment buzz? Easy: Melissa and Noel professionally reinact a flirtatious scene from a romantic movie!
Designed for pupils, but also their parents, Go Textile! is the German textiles and fashion industry’s information platform covering the entire range of apprenticeships in the industry. About 300 companies and educational institutions use it to provide useful information about jobs and apprenticeship opportunities across the country. Go Textile! was launched ten years ago and has been developed further, adopting new ideas and concepts along the way. The latest idea – “Go digital, so what?!” – shines a light on the future of digitalisation in the textiles industry.
Digitalisation creates jobs!
“Many are afraid that digitalisation will reduce the number of jobs in our industry,” explains Dr Maria Rost, coordinator of the educational section of the German association of the textiles and fashion industry. However, in an interview with textile network, she points out that “the opposite is actually the case”. A recent evaluation of the job profile for a textile machine operator revealed that the digitalisation of production processes makes humans even more important.
“The industry is very up to date regarding its apprenticeships and curricula and is already preparing young people for the textiles production of tomorrow,” says Maria Rost. She is convinced that, “Textiles are shaping the modern world and will offer young people future-proof jobs for many years to come. Our industry has become a high-tech industry that makes apprentices highly sought-after specialists with great career prospects. In the German textiles and fashion industry, there are over 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities in production alone.”
Textiles and non-woven fabrics have become an important part of our everyday lives. And ever more applications are being added almost daily: from medical implants to special protective equipment to light-weight composite materials. The career paths in the industry have diversified accordingly. New talent and budding specialists are now sought-after in almost every area of the textiles and clothing industry. Apprentices have numerous ways to receive further education and training. For example by switching from a two-year to a three-year apprenticeship, such as from fashion sewer to fashion tailor or from machine operator to production mechanic. But it is not only apprenticeships that have diversified; universities and universities of applied sciences are also offering countless different courses focusing on textiles and fashion, ranging from production and design to management. (This will be the focus of part 5 of our “Stars of the future” series.)
Verseidag looks for apprentices at local schools and presents different jobs there. “We have had very positive experiences when offering chats with our apprentices at such events,” explains Mr Klingebiel. Verseidag’s apprentices also act as IHK apprenticeship ambassadors and tell pupils first-hand about their everyday jobs and training. Verseidag can also be found at job fairs such as the “MG zieht an” in Mönchengladbach. Here, adolescents have the opportunity to ask actual apprentices any questions they may have and they can even apply for an apprenticeship for the coming academic year.
Makai is from the city of Fulda. While filming the Go digital series, the 22-year old puts on a magic textile glove. It gives him superpowers which he will definitely be able to put to good use! After finishing an apprenticeship to become a production mechanic at Nicolaus Weber in Fulda, his aim is now to become a state-certified textiles technician, for which he is currently studying at the textiles vocational school in Münchberg in Upper Franconia.
Noel, 26 and originally from Krefeld, reveals during a break at the shoot how surprised he was by the sheer diversity of textiles applications and the huge number of apprenticeship opportunities and university courses on offer. “Many people don’t know that the textiles industry has a lot to offer regarding training and apprenticeships. It really is an industry that is always good for a surprise.” Noel recently finished his apprenticeship at Verseidag in Krefeld and is now a proud textile product finisher. He is now studying textiles engineering at RWTH Aachen.
Noel’s training manager in Krefeld, Jürgen Klingebiel (head of HR at Verseidag), tells us in an interview with textile network that apprentices now have amazing opportunities—not only in his, but also many other companies. Verseidag is one of the leading technical textiles companies in the world. “We not only offer interesting products, but also very diverse apprenticeship opportunities,” explains Mr Klingebiel. “Currently, we train people to become textile machinery operators, product finishers for textiles, textiles lab technicians, industrial managers and IT specialists. Our apprentices are part of our company from the very first day; they benefit from the knowledge of our experienced training staff and there is always a chance that the company will offer them a permanent job after their apprenticeship. And everyone can do further training.”
Milena and Larissa
Along with the more technical apprenticeships, the industry also offers a vast choice of apprenticeships and university courses covering fashion and design. This is another topic the Go Textile! team discusses. Milena, 19, completed her arts-focused A-levels at the technical college in Plauen and is now in her second year studying textiles design at the Münchberg campus of Hof University. She also keeps her readers on all her Go Textile! channels up to date—reporting, among others, on her recent visit to the Heimtextil trade fair in Frankfurt early this year.
One of her university trips to the world of fashion and textiles manufacturing even led Larissa to Hong Kong, 9,185 kilometres away from her home. Larissa is 23 and studies international fashion retail at the Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences. She is convinced that textiles can do a lot (German: “Textil kann viel”). This is also the motto of the south-west German textiles industry which presents itself at a fashion show with a difference, in which Larissa models on the catwalk and later acts as a Go Textile!’s fashion ambassador.
Jenny, another Go Textile! ambassador, regularly answers the questions of adolescents who take an interest in fashion and textiles. She is 20 and is currently doing a “dual” university course in textiles technology at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. In the past, she also completed an apprenticeship to become a fully trained textiles lab technician. She focuses on textile physics and does her training at the public testing institute for textiles in Mönchengladbach. After finishing school, she found this dual course in Mönchengladbach via the Go Textile! platform. “It was the combination of theory and hands-on work that attracted me,” Jenny explains during a panel discussion at the Berlin Fashion Week, which focused on the power of innovation in the German textiles industry. Not only seasoned fashion specialists but also newcomers all agreed that the Go Textile! ambassadors and their experiences are cut from the cloth that will shape the future of textiles.