We’ve been studying the challenge of education for nearly a decade, and can say with certainty that old models for no longer viable.
A traditional brick-and-mortar approach assumes thousands of hours in one location, and enough like-minded students to justify program costs. If it is PROFESSIONAL training, it should have the capability to connect graduates with potential employment and industry in-roads.
Population density for this model is hard to come by in the U.S. (outside of manufacturing regions).
Inevitably, these programs descend into open workshop, largely serving the local hobbyist.
If we can’t train the way we used to, what other options do we have?
The answer is that we watch what’s working.
Or rather, WHO is working.
In the last decade, incoming professionals have been informally demonstrating the very models we need.
- Maximized available online training resources
- Sought hands-on instruction to refine their skills, often traveling long distances to do so.
- Entered the job market early, generally through self-employment, in order to gain the practical experience that is CRITICAL to fluency.
- Begun to build the professional connections and communities they need to truly thrive.
- Established elegantly designed small businesses that find and meet modern market needs.
We’ve based on training philosophies on observations of what is currently working. Of WHO is currently working.
Modern professional upholstery training must be:
- With lack of widespread access to physical classrooms, online training must be the central feature in any modern training model
Flipped and Low Residency
- The value in hands-on education is still relevant, but these opportunities are limited and expensive. It must be designed with the assumption that students won’t get much of it. Live workshops come AFTER skill introduction and independent practice.
- The journey from beginner to master is VERY long. Well-designed instruction must give students scaffolding to move intentionally in stages towards full proficiency.
Reflective of the Modern Market
- We cannot train students for a job market that no longer exists. We must prepare them, and design education for, work that can financially sustain them.
Willing to Acknowledge and Communicate ALL employment requirements
- Skills training is only one piece of the picture. We must be able to point out where students need experience, a peer group, a marketing strategy. If we can support them in finding those things, all the better. But we absolutely cannot ignore them.
We believe in the continued relevance of upholstery as a skilled trade. And we believe in the potential of modern professional students and business owners.
It is our hope that the models we are currently developing will find practical use with individual students, and also translate into classrooms and workrooms. We also hope, in the future, to expand access to live training to more locations across the country.