Carpenters, prototype makers, tailors, upholsterers, but also experts in sustainability and new generation machinery. Arper, Ceccotti Collezioni, Giorgetti and Living Divani explain which profiles are most sought after by companies

According to Eurostat data relating to 2023, Italy is in second to last place in Europe in terms of employment rate of new graduates. On the one hand, young people are struggling to enter the job market, on the other, companies complain about a lack of qualified labor and the difficulty in guaranteeing generational turnover.

“The real challenge is to be able to bring young people closer to manufacturing professions, also through targeted local hiring policies”, explains Giovanni del Vecchio, CEO of Giorgetti.

Among the most sought-after professional profiles in the furniture sector are carpenters, prototype makers, tailors, upholsterers, but also new figures expert in sustainability and new generation machinery.

To testify to this, in addition to Giovanni del Vecchio, also Roberto Monti and Giuseppe Cavattoni, respectively CEO and head of human resources of Arper, Franco Ceccotti, founder and creative director of Ceccotti Collezioni and Carola Bestetti, CEO of Living Divani.

Giovanni del Vecchio, CEO of Giorgetti

“Among the profiles we look for most are artisans, whose irreplaceable skills allow us to preserve a unique heritage developed over 126 years of history. In the digital age there has been a progressive distancing of the new generations from manual jobs.

For a company like Giorgetti, which integrates processes with a high level of craftsmanship into its production and which is strongly rooted in the territory in which it operates, the real challenge is to bring young people closer to manufacturing professions also through targeted local hiring policies.

We invest in the new generations - 12 percent of our resources are under 30 years old - to guarantee constant and adequate turnover.

For years we have supported and involved the professional school system with the aim of both directing training courses and providing students with the opportunity to gain experience in the field and reduce the gap between school and work.

We collaborate with the GiuseppeTerragni professional training centre, born in Meda in 1868, with the school-work alternation project, and in some cases we include young people with apprenticeship contracts within our production sites".

Carola Bestetti, CEO of Living Divani

“Finding young people who have specific manufacturing skills today is not easy. First of all, it is necessary to keep in mind the fabric of local companies in which we are involved: these are small and medium-sized businesses in the Como area and in Brianza, often family-run , who have specific needs and requirements, and who find themselves operating in different scenarios compared to multinationals or large industrial centers. Training is fundamental, but sometimes it is distant from the real needs and opportunities of brands. Furthermore, new graduates who possess specific skills often aspire to job positions in international companies, rather than realities rooted in the local fabric.

We encounter particular difficulty in finding highly specialized profiles, as in the case of prototyping, sewing and upholstery. Until a few years ago there were few specific schools for these subjects for our sector. To date, there are still not many young people with a specialization in productive activities since an academic type of study is preferred rather than a manufacturing one. Furthermore, many of the processes are now digitalized and can no longer be defined as simple manufacturing, therefore also presupposing specific technological knowledge. And often, those who meet all the requirements are not willing to enter a production context

Our reality is particularly inclined towards the inclusion of young people to encourage the creation of a dynamic context that is in step with the times. For the more operational departments we cooperate with Artwood Academy, the academy in Lentate sul Seveso which trains young people in technical manual and technological skills. For years we have also collaborated with the design students of the Polytechnic of Milan, master in Furniture Design; visits to the company give rise to internships and internships, experiences that can be transformed into job opportunities".

Franco Ceccotti, founder and creative director of Ceccotti Collezioni

“There is a shortage of qualified manpower and it is difficult to find young people for generational change. And, above all, there is the risk of losing skills and abilities, that artisanal savoir faire which in our case is essential. To deal with the problem, for some years now we have been pairing young artisans with people with long experience in order to create that virtuous process of the trade that is passed down from generation to generation.

Here, half are young, with an average age of 27. The Russoli artistic high school of Pisa, once an art school, plays a fundamental role: we invite the fourth and fifth year students to the company Together with the teachers, we show the production phases and, together, we identify the activities in which the children can undertake their educational path.

Before the end of the lessons, the one-month school/work alternation program starts. In this first phase the children are not exposed to risks and therefore cannot use the machines, but focus on other steps such as gluing and packaging, under the supervision of a tutor.

After this first month of school-work alternation, at the end of high school, the school indicates who is interested in continuing. This is followed by a six-month internship financed half by the company and half by the Tuscany region. After the internship, we can propose a two-year apprenticeship contract, a period in which the "seniors" of the company work alongside and pass on the profession to the "juniors".

At the end of this long journey, the young person develops basic experience and greater confidence in the different artisan techniques.

Among the profiles we are most looking for are carpenters, prototype makers, developers and machinery managers. For young people in our area, a good gym and showcase is the Russoli high school, but we are open to evaluating other profiles as well, always with a view to coaching and apprenticeships, which are essential for us".

Roberto Monti, CEO of Arper: “Many young people join us in our commitment to sustainability, a journey we undertook in 2005.

At the Salone del Mobile 2024 we presented Catifa Carta in PaperShell, a virtuous material developed by the Swedish startup founded in 2021 to process waste from wood production. By collaborating with young partners and introducing pioneering materials and conscious practices, we aim to inspire change and become an example of responsible business.

Likewise, the presence of young people in the company is crucial to guarantee a sustainable and responsible future. Our product managers develop products according to sustainable processes that are now essential for us.

Furthermore, we have recently launched the Sustainability Ambassadors program, a group of people from different company teams to spread our actions on environmental and social sustainability".

Giuseppe Cavattoni, human resources manager at Arper: “Qualified manpower is fundamental for us, especially in upholstery and sewing. Our industrial system stands out for its craftsmanship, where the added value is given by the competence and professionalism of our collaborators, this implies that the training path required is long and complex.

Today, however, careers in the production sector do not attract young people and it becomes a challenge to guarantee generational turnover; this is why we recently inaugurated the Arper Campus, where our master craftsmen teach the craft and passion for manufacturing work.

In Europe we have 196 employees, with an average age of 44 years; of these, 55 are under 35, 15 under 30, the youngest is 22, different generations that create a kaleidoscope of values, working methods, expectations and needs that enriches the experiential heritage of the company.

We offer training courses that encourage dialogue and intergenerational exchange, we welcome young interns, we promote partnerships with universities and post-diploma technical institutes and we guarantee a smooth entry into our reality with onboarding programs.

My advice to young people is reflected in a quote from Shakespeare that calls for the boldness and courage typical of youth: "Gentlemen, the time of life is short. If we live, we live to trample on kings."