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Industrial Sewing Looks To Replenish Workforce With College Program

DEARBORN (WWJ) -- The art of industrial sewing is getting a much-needed breath of new life thanks to a new program at Henry Ford College.

Karen Buscemi, founder and president of the Detroit Garment Group Guild, said that there are nearly 300 open positions in Michigan for cutters and sewers. Buscemi said that the program should help the industry which is struggling to find qualified workers.

"They're really hard to come by," Buscemi said. "We have over 300 jobs sitting open, that we know of, and we think that there's far more that we still haven't found out about."

Students at Henry Ford College can now take part in a six-week program learning all aspects of industrial sewing.

"It can be anything from apparel to automotive, to upholstery, to boating," Buscemi said. "Cut and sew really runs a very large gamut, so they're going to have the skills they need to go into any of these industries."

Mark D'andreta, owner of TDIC Sterling Heights, a company that makes clothes for automotive robots, said his company is one of many that has positions it needs to fill.

"My company alone, today, we've got a dozen open positions for sewers that we're having a really hard time finding people to fill," D'andreta said.

D'andreta said that the workers can pull in decent wages in the industry, which is growing along with a demand for products which are made in the United States.

"Vocational training and this kind of stuff has gone from the high schools," D'andreta said. "There's a real need for industrial sewers that just don't exist -- we're having a really hard time hiring."

The program instructs students in entry-level skills to operate sewing machines and tools, safety, ergonomics, various sewing machines, stitches and finishes, set-up and quality are some of the topics that will be taught.

More information can be found at Henry Ford College's website.

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