Training Program Targets Sewing Skills Gap

By Debra D. Bass
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The ability to sew using industrial equipment is a hot commodity in the St. Louis region. Mom-and-pop alteration shops and bigger manufacturing companies in the area are so desperate for skilled, well-trained workers that it’s fueling opportunities.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

An effort to rebrand sewing as entrepreneurship continues to gain traction, as many insist that skilled workers who perform job duties without a keyboard are making a comeback.

Apprenticeships are being touted as America’s best option to solve a persistent job skills gap.

There were 6 million job openings in April, a record high, according to the Labor Department.

At the same time, there were 6.8 million people out of work.

That math looks simple, but about 95 percent of employers said they had difficulty finding skilled and available workers, according to a recent workforce survey by Business Roundtable.

Lydia Merritt of Elyse Theo Design Studio downtown thinks her training program can solve a small slice of the problem.

She can help those with immediate need for skilled garment workers, including her company, in the region and provide typically low-skilled workers with a viable long-term profession.

Though some see it as dead-end work, the ability to sew using industrial equipment is a hot commodity.

Mom-and-pop alteration shops and bigger manufacturing companies in the region are so desperate for skilled, well-trained workers that it’s fueling opportunities.

Gregg Garland said he had openings at Moxi Enterprises, his manufacturing facility on South Vandeventer Avenue, that were unfilled for two years.

He has since filled the positions but said, “Everyone is busy. We have as much business as we could handle.” Garland hinted at a future expansion: “Everyone I know is busy, so a training, apprenticeship program makes sense. I think there’s a bad perception that working on garments for a living is a Third World occupation. It’s a stigma, but it doesn’t need to be.”

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