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“The national emergency” – at least that’s how Federorafi defined it – has the face of 10 thousand people who will leave the sector in the next 8/10 years having reached the retirement age limits. The solution is a generational relay that has no alternative but to start at school. Or, perhaps, even earlier: from the story, aimed at young people and their families, of the importance (and beauty) of the high craftsmanship work carried out in companies to encourage them to undertake a technical career in goldsmithing. There will be many open positions: from the cleaner to the setter, from the bench goldsmith to the expert in numerical control machines or 3D printing.
If the decisive push has come, over the last decade, from jewelery companies – many of which today are part of international luxury groups – the historic schools in Italy have returned to having a leading role, in an ever-increasing synergy more calibrated with businesses, and have recorded an increase in registrations. «For the year 2023/24 we had a record number of students enrolled: 145 students, when we usually have around 100 – explains Giuseppe Casillo, president of Tads, the design school founded in 1991 in the heart of the Tarì district, in the province of Caserta -. The news is that many are no longer children of art, which in the past were the majority but today stop at 20%, but young people who come from other paths including artistic training schools or classical and scientific studies”. There is therefore, according to Casillo, «a perception that is light years different from what was there before, I would say a real rediscovery of the world of jewellery, thanks to a new love for craftsmanship».
The school, which today is operationally led by Francesca Topo and Salvatore Messa, is located in the center of the Tarì gold district, but works in close contact with companies in other territories: among the most prestigious collaborations is that with the Bulgari maison which , launched in 2016, has given over 200 students the opportunity to join Bulgari. Two masterclasses started in 2023, one in goldsmithing and one in setting, lasting 250 hours. «Our heart is the laboratory – Casillo comments -, but we provide 360 degree training. And this is what our collaboration with jewelery companies is based on: they realized that with their internal academies, which can offer specialization rather than actual training, they were unable to bridge the gap between the training path and entry into the factory”.
360 degree training is also the mission of the Ambrosiana Goldsmith School, founded in 1995. Which, like the Tads, is recording an increase in enrolments: «The demand for labor exceeds the supply – explains Luca Solari, founder -. Since the big brands were purchased by groups and funds there has been an injection of money which has led to strong investments in the sector and the search for ultra-specialised figures. The figure of the goldsmith who did everything no longer exists.” Even Solari, who last year launched a master’s degree in goldsmith arts in partnership with Buccellati, underlines how academies are structures more suited to specialization than to training: «Teaching and producing are two different things and it is not certain that artisans will be able to best transmit their skills. Those who train, on the other hand, have specific skills on this front.
Even SOA, which has two offices and a hi-tech laboratory in Milan, is witnessing a progressive change in users: «Ten years ago we had half an international audience, with a high average age; between 25 and 35 years old. Today the age of students has dropped a lot, it is between 20 and 25 years old, and our audience is almost entirely Italian.”