Textiltechnik Ausbildung / Foto: Hochschule Niederrhein/Kirsten Becken

The multi-faceted world of textile technology

When the discussion turns to jobs in the textile sector, most people immediately associate them with certain trades, e.g., tailoring or a traditional career in sales. However, there is much more to textiles than this.

More and more women are also showing great interest in working with technical textiles, for example, in a laboratory, in product finishing or on the production-engineering side. At the Textile and Clothing Technology Faculty of ‘Hochschule Niederrhein’ university of applied technology, 80 percent of students are female. Inspired by fashion or, perhaps, because they had a vacation job in the retail trade, many of them begin a course of study in textile or clothing engineering. While most male students are technically oriented from the beginning, women tend to discover a delight in the technical side of the sector somewhat later. “In everyday private life or at school, the majority of young people only encounter the textile value chain via garments or home textiles”, says Professor Maike Rabe. “Only when they start studying do they discover the huge variety covered by the sector.”

Almost immediately, students begin to understand the sheer breadth of this value chain. The close contact to companies via a variety of projects and courses of practical training also widens the students’ horizons and, by the end of their course of study, they have a good idea of what sort of career they want to pursue. The perspectives for finding a position in a production facility in Germany are very good in the case of technically oriented jobs. “The focus of universities of applied science has shifted since Bologna. Besides apprenticeships, application-oriented research has gained enormously in importance and we are in contact with companies not only in the German speaking countries but also throughout the world”, says Rabe. “They come to us with questions. However, it is often the case that we present ideas to these companies in the first place.”

As a business partner, Hochschule Niederrhein continuously adapts the courses of study offered to take account of new economic and technical developments, as well as the needs of the industry. In the university’s laboratories and workshops, students obtain a scientific, practice-oriented qualification supplemented by projects and dissertations carried out in industrial enterprises. The practical nature of the courses of study helps the students to develop new ideas and, in many cases, motivates them to branch out in another direction to that originally planned.

Generally speaking, things move quickly after graduation and, in the experience of Maike Rabe, “The great majority of students have found a well-paid job within two to three months.” Indeed, around a third of all students have a job lined up even before they graduate. The jobs are many and varied in a host of different companies with quality assessors, developers, production managers, designers, buyers, product managers, supply chain and marketing managers being sought everywhere. And the graduate textile and clothing engineers are extremely independent when it comes to choosing a job. Some remain in Germany. Many aim to go abroad to gather experience and improve their command of foreign languages. Geographically, they orient themselves towards the world’s leading centres of production and trade.

Kirsten Rein

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