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Work aplenty, but labourers few - Shortage of dressmakers, tailors hits back-to-school preparation

Published:Wednesday | August 27, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Llewellyn Vidal in his downtown Kingston business. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

As the new school year approaches, many dressmakers and tailors are swamped with work; however, persons like Llewellyn Vidal, owner of L.S. Vidal Tailoring in downtown Kingston, say the work is plenty but the labourers are few.

In an interview with The Gleaner on Monday, he said he has experienced both a shortage in the number of persons wanting to become dressmakers as well as a lack of skilled persons available.

"I cannot complain. I have a lot of work, but the problem is the hands to do it," he declared.

"If I'm to compare previous years with this year, I can't say I am seeing a difference in terms of work available. People will want at least one new suit for their children, but I have to be refusing work because I don't want anybody to stone me because I cannot deliver on time, and the truth is, I can't manage the workload by myself," he said.

Vidal added:"Persons who come forward (for employment), generally, are not up to the required standard, and on a whole, are not interested, and my priority is to make my clients happy."

Similarly, Dianne Taylor, who operates from her home on Windward Way in downtown Kingston, said she had to be careful when employing persons.

"I ensure that I do at least one month's training with them first because the standard is not there anymore. There is a serious problem in the number of persons available," she said.

Denworth Finnikin, senior director for workforce develop-ment and employment at Heart Trust/National Training Agency, agreed that there had been a general decline in the number of persons wanting to be trained in the fashion industry.

"We were very strong in training persons in the area of garment construction and production. Over the years, though, we have noticed a drastic decline in persons being enrolled in this department," Finnikin told The Gleaner.

"Another factor that might result in some of the problems that these small operators are facing is that for us here (Heart Trust/NTA), many of our graduates are starting their own businesses. A study that we did recently showed that at least 60 per cent of our students become entrepreneurs. Many of them do not want to work for other persons," he said.

He said going forward, the institution would be trying to enhance fashion courses.

"Some of these small operators need to advance themselves and adapt to new skills and technology because the truth is, things are not the same as before," he said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com