The Rupp Report: Think About The Next Generation

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

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

October 18, 2011