Graduating with Needle and Thread: Tailoring Training at Gemeinschaftswerk Kassel

View into the tailor's studio
Photo: A. Schröder

Calls to make school more relevant to life come time and again. The Berufsbildende Gemeinschaftswerk Kassel vocational school has been pursuing this idea for more than 50 years, offering state-recognised vocational training in the artisanal and technical sector that is integrated into the regular schooling of the Freie Waldorfschule Kassel. This opens up a variety of educational paths and degrees for the students, linking theoretical and practical learning as well as providing valuable impulses for the personal development of the young people. A central component of the educational concept is that the students are integrated into real work processes during their training in the workshops. The high demands of real customer orders in terms of quality and execution create a professional framework that requires highly accurate planning and production. At the same time, the marketability of the products also secures the financial basis for the future apprenticeship years – a kind of generational model that the adolescents experience in a very hands-on way and help to develop.

This also creates exciting opportunities for the pupils of the International Class at the Waldorf School in Kassel – also supported by SAGST – many of the young people with a refugee or immigration background were interested in artisanal training. In addition to the tried and tested wood, metal and electrical workshops, a tailoring workshop with ten training places was also opened with the foundation’s support. In the initial phase, the young men and women learn basic tailoring skills or sew simple garments, linens and home textiles. Gradually, the offer is set to expand to include small series or the production of custom made-to-measure clothing, for instance. “We are pleased to contribute to the further expansion of this pioneering model by providing the basic equipment for the tailoring workshop”, says Timotheus Wersich, a project manager at SAGST. “The foundation hopes that this will send a strong signal beyond Kassel because such double qualifications represent an attractive variant in our education system, which often has a one-sided focus on academic content.”