Textile production schools: discovering this new type of training

They are now four in the textile sector, and soon at least seven. The production schools train promotions of twelve students, through two thirds of practical learning and one third of theoretical education (French, mathematics, history/geography …). Non-profit, these establishments are financially supported by manufacturers and communities, and in part through sales to brands and manufacturers. student productions. FashionNetwork.com tours France of existing textile EDPs (municipalities of Saint-Etienne, Roubaix, Saumur, Marseille) or to come (Cholet, Bressuire and Vire), and on the challenges of this highly regulated model.

The Fask production school in Marseille – Fask

With 43 establishments to date, the National Federation of Production Schools (FNEP) wants to be intractable on the subject: no establishment if there are no local recruitment needs. These establishments target teenagers who have dropped out of school, or who are looking to learn a trade very early on. It is in this context that the AFEP of Saint-Etienne (Loire) launched from 2017 to 2022T’Cap-T’pro in Saumur (Maine et Loire)Epicc de Roubaix (North)and the Marseille Fask (Bouches-du-Rhone). A late first textile wave, based on a school model that has been growing since the 1990s, but which today opens the way to other highly anticipated projects in the territories.

It took until 2017 to see the first textile production school appear. Founded in 1991, the Saint-Etienne AFEP had successively deployed training in construction and then metallurgy. “We had the desire to create a section capable of attracting an audience that is no longer just male”, says director Antoine Martin. “And we came across an article where Elizabeth Ducottet, director of Thuasne, explained that Saint-Etienne is the European capital of technical and medical textiles. That was what we needed.”

The AFEP production school in Saint Etienne – AFEP

The three local players in medical textiles, Thuasne, Gibaud and Sigvaris, who discovered the concept of a production school on this occasion, support the project. A workshop of 400 square meters was born, where up to twelve students were prepared for the CAP of mechanics in clothing, with sewing, weaving and knitting, passing through the trade of braiding at the request of a local specialist in the practice, who will himself provide a machine to train his potential future recruits. One obstacle for the establishment is the difficulty of obtaining production in the highly regulated field of medical textiles. This does not prevent the parts produced from equipping the staff of partner companies.

From Roubaix to Marseille via Saumur

Like its cousin from Saint-Etienne, the Epicc (School of Industrial Production of Sewing and Tailoring) de Roubaix was born in the bosom of a school of non-textile production, Epal (automotive) installed for its part in Lens since 2019. Its founder Pierre Delannoy, little connoisseur of textiles, decided to create in Roubaix a school dedicated to this speciality, with a figure in mind: 200 operators to be recruited in surrounding textile companies by 2025.

Since September 2021, more than twenty machines have been dedicated to train students, via subcontracted production, such as for the household linen specialist Vanderschooten. Or via patronage, prototyping and production for young brands like Maison PoumPoum (bum bags), Tricotinette (childcare) or Mon Joli Bavoir. To these are added external customers acquiring products designed by the students, such as towels for the solidarity grocery store at the University of Lille. The Roubaix establishment will inaugurate its new premises at 139, rue des Arts on February 8th.

The Epicc production school in Roubaix – Epicc

In Saumur, in Maine-et-Loire, the textile course launched in September 2022 by T’Cap-T’Pro was again born in the wake of another training course, that of metalworker-welder, initiated in 2019. On a surface that will soon increase from 120 to 180 meters, sewing machines, sergers and other machines are intended to train specifically for fuzzy clothing (flexible, unstructured, etc.).

“It is all the more relevant that Laurent Vandenbor, general delegate of the Mode Grand Ouest federation (group of textile-clothing companies in the region, editor’s note)repeats that the sector needs 1,300 people a year”, underlines the director of the school Jacky Giraudeau. His students provide in particular tote bags the shop of the neighboring Fontevraud abbey (listed by Unesco), and produce scrunchies, aprons and upholstery covers for local businesses. “And we are now starting to work in the garment industry, which opens up new possibilities for us”, welcomes its manager.

In September 2022 also launched the Marseille establishment Fask, created this time directly around a textile course, and in the bosom of the eponymous association launched in 2019 to federate local textile-clothing players. “By developing this ecosystem, we have identified the obstacles, including the production of skills, with production schools as a potential response”, explains Fask President Jocelyn Meire.

Not without difficulty, 650 square meters have been identified and adapted in the 14th arrondissement of Marseille. The establishment notably produces aprons for renowned caterers and restaurants in Marseille, as well as T-shirts for the Engagés Engagées brand. Opening the way, via the rise in skills of the students, to more technical collaborations around polo shirts and other more complex pieces. Like its EDP colleagues, Fask is already regularly approached by local businesses.

A second wave of textile and leather goods schools in September 2023

What about leather goods, the flagship of French luxury? L’West Technical Training Institute (IFTO) of Cholet, EDP dedicated to the boilermaking trades, wishes from September 2023 to devote a course to it. “We were thinking of textiles, but we had a lot of specific requests from local leather goods players,” explains the director of the establishment Emmanuel Rouve. He points out that the study of opportunities, necessary to get the green light, will be at the heart of exchanges planned for February with the National Federation of Production Schools, while a meeting with local industrialists will be held at the end of January.

The T’Cap T’Pro production school in Saumur – T’Cap T’Pro

As part of the France Relance plan, three other textile production school projects were formalized at the end of 2021, for the start of the school year in September 2023. One of the projects is the one taking place in Bressuire, in Deux-Sèvres. And the schedule for the launch of the future establishment should be kept, tells FashionNetwork.com the Atelier des Talents de Bressuire, which can count in particular on the support of the Maison de l’emploi du Bocage bressuirais, as well as that of the Club des entreprises local.

A textile EDP is also being prepared made in Normandy in Vire, in Calvados, which will offer training in loose clothing at the start of the 2023 school year, via the trades of tailors and production facility managers. An approach supported in particular by Saint James, Kiplay (work clothes), Filix (elastics), Bagster (saddle and motorcycle luggage), the Linportant flax projectwithout forgetting the companies BS Production, Tricoterie du Val de Saire and Borney.

The east of the country also had its textile production school project, originally planned for the start of the 2023 school year. at Remiremont (Vosges), south of Epinal. Unfortunately, Vosges Terre Textile tells FashionNetwork that the project is no longer relevant, even if other training initiatives are emerging locally. In the meantime, the east of France chas, with the Saint Eloi establishment in Annecy, the only production school dedicated to jewellery. The three future textile schools will be heard in February by the FNEP, which can grant a “pre-label” to future establishments.

Lack of notoriety and barriers to recruitment

Still, production schools suffer from several obstacles. Starting with a lack of notoriety for this highly supervised training model. A problem which, however, tends to be resolved with the gradual appearance of new regional establishments.

Most of the headteachers contacted also mentioned resistance from certain players in education and guidance. Not a distrust linked to productions made by minors. But more to the excesses that some still spontaneously associate with all non-public establishments. Without forgetting the rejection, by some, of production schools perceived as competitors of fashion or textile BTS, license, DUT and other professional patents already issued in more established training establishments.

“Some people don’t want to hear about us,” one of them confides. Another mentions cancellations of school visits “on instructions from the school management”. The general opinion is that it is often a personal problem, quickly solved when meetings are accepted.

The Fask production school in Marseille – Fask

“There are regions where everything is going very well, where establishments refer young people to us. In others, the training forums organized in colleges are not open to us”, explains Agnès Carret, label and quality manager of the FNEP.

“We are recognized by the State, we are known better and better, even if the National Education does not yet refer to us in its guidance systems. It is up to us to make it understood that there is no school if there is not a local need for it”, underlines the manager, who sees in the reindustrialization of tricolor textiles the first vector for the creation of establishments.

It is in this context that in Marseille Jocelyn Meire organized in March 2022 the “fashion career day“, inviting other local textile training to come and present their curcuses. “It was a way of unfreezing relations, of showing that we bring a complementary model, knowing that in addition we will never have more than twelve students”, indicates the leader, who will renew the operation in March 2023. And for whom the only solution vis-à-vis schools is to meet them individually, “which takes a lot of time”.

In addition to the recruitment of students, there is the question of the recruitment of qualified professionals, who will be trained to become approved “professional teachers”. The establishments contacted by FashionNetwork.com all underline this need for qualified trainers, pedagogues, and able to meet the educational needs of future professionals with sometimes complex backgrounds. Budding professionals, and pioneers of production schools, who are nonetheless eagerly awaited by the French textile-clothing sector. Who for more than a decade alert to its recruitment difficulties.

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Textile production schools: discovering this new type of training