Now, more than ever before, why should the young and not so young people look to the leather goods industry for their professional educational needs and the perfection of their own skill sets? Because leather goods is one of the most important voices contributing to the revenue of leading international brands listed on the stock exchange and the bag is the accessory par excellence and a bestselling item among end customers.
Moreover, for quite some time now, there has been a high and constant demand for employees by bags manufacturers: «Our main concern – explains Stefano Magri from Renato Corti, a well known leather goods producer from Milan, which partners up with the ARSUTORIA School for educational programmes – is that of preserving the expertise and savoir-faire typical of traditional high-end leather goods manufacturing».
Even Francesca Busiello, Senior Account Manager of the Quanta temp agency – with which ARSUTORIA School has collaborated for pattern-making and prototyping courses sponsored by well-known fashion brands – confirms the on-going need in the industry for workers: «The demand for specialised personnel in the leather goods industry is constantly on the rise: production line workers, leather cutters, machine operators, and pattern-makers are just some of the profiles most in demand by the market. The biggest problem that companies are encountering on a daily basis, in fact, is the difficulty in recruiting specialised personnel that can become part of the company, since today many of the current workers are nearing the age of retirement. We are fighting to support companies in this generational changeover, but the number of employment opportunities is far superior to the number of job applicants».
What are today’s companies looking for? We ask Matteo Pasca, director of ARSUTORIA School:
«When selecting specialised personnel, three fundamental aspects must be considered: first, the so-called ‘soft skill’ set. Companies are on the lookout for reliable individuals that can be positively inserted into the network of relations in a factory, with the ability to make the most of not only their technical skills, but also their own personal aptitudes. The second fundamental factor is that of workers’ expectations: companies need employees that are genuinely interested in working in a productive context, and not those who see production as a simple stepping-stone towards designer or other similar positions in the company. Last, but not least, manual ability and basic technical knowledge is important, so they can quickly be inserted into the productive process with some kind of background. Today’s rhythms are too fast to even think about hiring people without any kind of expertise and having senior workers show them ropes, as often happened in the past”.
It is exactly these principles on which the professional training courses offered by ARSUTORIA School are founded, as explained by Elena Scavardone, head of the Leather Goods course, and professor with over 10 years of experience in working for some of the most important designer labels: «We teach our students a concrete and manual way of working, the same that is used in the workshops of leading luxury brands. From us, they also learn theory, but above all the practicality of touching with their hands and learning about the materials, the importance of and wide variety of reinforcements, and the problems connected to the development of models. At the same time, they also learn how to construct genuine bag prototypes with their very own hands, thanks to the presence of a fully equipped laboratory right inside the school».
A kind of education that provides the right results, as underlined by Francesca Busiello: «The partnership with ARSUTORIA, first set into motion 4 years ago, fully satisfies the demands of our customers. At the end of the course, in fact, the most talented students are inserted into leading companies in the leather goods segment with fixedterm employment agency contracts or direct internships in the company».
This is what is confirmed by Renato Corti: «We realised that the culture of our work can be taught, when instead we always believed that it could only be passed down from one generation to the next. Out of the 15 students who participated in the Renato Corti Academy project in collaboration with ARSUTORIA School, more than half (after a 6-month internship) moved on to a job in the pattern-making or production departments. The results are excellent!»
Extremely close ties with the sector
ARSUTORIA School is not only the perfect choice for those interested in learning a trade, but also the opportunity for a full-immersion in the world of leather goods, as can be seen by the school’s many dedicated initiatives in recent years:
- technical workshops for the creation of prototypes by students coming from design schools like Istituto Marangoni and the Domus Academy
- production, in the school’s in-house laboratory, of bag prototypes to be subsequently presented at international fairs at the stands of Italian manufacturers of materials
- workshops aimed at the managers of important brands of finished products,
- guided visits to leading leather goods companies representing the very best in Italian tradition and luxury
- the collaboration with UNIC, the Italian Tanners’ Association, and the Lineapelle fair
- the European projects like Erasmus +Leia that in October 2019 will kick off its ambitious programme
The experience of students
Nothing is better, however, than hearing the voice of American Margaret Hennessey, who got her degree from the very first edition of the post-graduate bag semester course, speak of her experience at ARSUTORIA School.
«I began studying the world of leather goods three years ago as a self-taught student, constructing bags by following online courses, until I eventually realised that I needed to learn a correct and professional method for designing and creating my models».
She accordingly decided to come to Italy to attend the semester course of ARSUTORIA School. «For the first twelve weeks, I participated in the Course for Pattern Making, where I made many bag samples, learning how to cut materials and skive and split the leathers, how to use reinforcements, stitch, and follow all the steps needed to create a complete bag prototype. This initial class was followed by a 4-week Design Course, where we faced problems connected to designing a bag collection, while considering themes connected to technical design, to then go on to the 1-week course where we were taught about the concepts of branding, marketing strategies, and market and consumer analysis. During the last part of the semester (the 3-week Bag Making Course) I made the most of and perfected all the things I had previously learned, and from the beginning to the end of it, in the school’s in-house laboratory, created 3 bags: a tote, a clutch, and a backpack».
Margaret discovered the most interesting part of the experience once she had returned to North Carolina: «I was immediately able to dedicate myself to my brand, and raise its quality up to the next level. Now I sell my line of products online (www.margarethennessey.co) and I’m making plans for its gradual expansion, while preserving the concept of craft workmanship with a focus on details, which makes the most of everything I learned in Italy».