IFAI Announces Partnership With The Makers Coalition


The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) today announced an agreement with The Makers Coalition (TMC) to partner on a nationwide workforce development initiative. TMC was started in Minnesota by a group of manufacturers to provide sewing machine operator training and fill unmet needs in the local manufacturing community. A curriculum was developed and offered at Dunwoody College of Technology, a Minneapolis-based technical school.

“There is an on-shoring trend in the United States which is creating a demand for skilled machine operators. At the same time, there is a shortage of people who have been steered into manufacturing careers and trained to operate equipment,” said Mary Hennessy, president and chief executive officer of IFAI. “As a local group of manufacturers, TMC has had phenomenal success and wants to play a role in helping other communities address this important issue.”

IFAI is a 102-year-old trade association with more than 1,500 corporate members. Both IFAI and TMC see opportunities to duplicate the model, and together they have the expertise and resources to help meet the demand for skilled labor in the sewing industry.

“Our goal has always been to create a national model that other cities could replicate in order to fill these jobs with the skill that the industry is in need of filling,” said Jen Guarino, founder of TMC. “This partnership will give us access to their considerable industry experience and outreach to achieve that goal and we are excited about all the possibilities.”

TMC will continue to exist as a foundation with its mission of developing curriculum and coordinating with training institutions, workforce development agencies and economic development organizations. IFAI will create a new division (one of 14 that serve specific member initiatives and markets) to be called the Makers Division, and will seek interested companies to support the training programs with industry expertise, trainers, apprenticeships and job placement.

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Ken Wells