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The Rupp Report: Think About The Next Generation

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

In the last 20-plus years, mainly in the West, the textile and textile machinery industries have experienced a true brain drain and loss of skilled people. Capable staff were sent to retirement or bluntly sacked. On top of that, as everybody knows, established textile people are always complaining about the "bad times." So young people, who have had to decide in which direction their professional careers should go, have hesitated to take jobs in the textile industry. All Rupp Report readers know the saying: "Do whatever you wanna do, but stay away from textiles."

Old Tales
Still today, as it might have been 100 years earlier, there are thoughts in some people's minds — and it's still written in many schoolbooks — that there are young children lying on their backs working under spinning machines and are covered with dust. This does not necessarily relate to some situations in today's world ... However, the global textile community as such has failed to communicate in every country the message that the textile and textile machinery industry is a very interesting field and that capable progeny are the heart and soul of every healthy and sustainable industry.

A True Gap
And what is the result of these missed opportunities? Today, there is a big gap between the experienced workforce and the next generation. Who will be able to run the textile businesses 10 years from now? The Rupp Report is often confronted with the question: "Do you know some trained young people who are willing to join us? Or students from various faculties?" Who has said to young people that the textile industry has some of the most advanced technologies in the world? Nobody. And why are the banks always complaining in their reports that there is "no future" for the textile industry? Probably because ... well, everybody knows the answer to this question. It doesn't take much to interest young kids in doing something, if it's really interesting and offers a future for making a living. Yet, motivation is another way to keep the next generation in the industry. And the Rupp Report encountered a brilliant idea during the recent ITMA Europe in Barcelona.

Information Is Motivation
The Rupp Report talked with — among other exhibitors — Harry Jetter, head of communications for the Germany-based Groz-Beckert Group, about the outcome of ITMA in Barcelona. Like all other interviewed exhibitors, Jetter has only reported good news so far, only questioning the rhythm of the ITMAs in Asia and Europe. But he told another impressive story: Groz-Beckert invited at the company's expense some 100 of its own apprentices to visit ITMA in Barcelona. What a good plan! When asked the reasons for that decision, Jetter said, "Not only theoretical stuff is interesting for young people. It is of utmost importance to show them the real world. And the real world is ITMA; there is nothing comparable, where people can see so much machinery and information in one place. It's just attractive. And on top of that," he added, "information motivates them."


All the kids were dressed in the same T-shirt, and on the shirts was the slogan: ITMA = Im Team Macht Arbeit Spass, which means: "To work on a team is fun." Jetter mentioned that the apprentices were wearing their shirts like a trophy. Just look at the kids in the picture: "Be proud and say it loud, I'm working in textiles." There is nothing more to add but to congratulate Harry Jetter and his team.

Copying Allowed
To be copied has always been the highest form of flattery. But this idea from Groz-Beckert is more than just an idea and should be copied in the same or similar form. It is a testimony to the textile industry and shows true faith in the next generation. Well done.

Do you know comparable stories? The Rupp Report would be glad to publish them. Please write to jrupp@textileworld.com.

October 18, 2011