GTCC helps furniture manufacturing companies meet a need with sewing class

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Guilford Technical Community College is helping furniture manufacturing companies meet a need.

It launched a furniture sewing program last August.

Since then, each student who finished the program and wanted a position landed a job in the field.

The course is unique from what the community college has offered in the past because it partners with more than a dozen companies to develop the curriculum and provide jobs for qualified students.

“We ask them to as often as they can, to come to the class, to talk to the students, to sell their companies to the students,” said Steve Castelloe, director of business and industry training at GTCC.

KI, located in High Point, is one of the partner companies.

“It’s difficult for people to walk in off the street and be a sewer in a commercial factory. There’s just too much skill that has to be developed,” General Manager Ken Neves said.

Students are taught the skills necessary to sew upholstered furniture.

“When they come to the class they don’t know anything about sewing, they don’t know the machines,” furniture sewing instructor Patricia Torres said.

Modesta Labra finished the course and works at Bedex in Greensboro.

Her husband was the only one working before she took the position.

She says the additional income has given her family more flexibility financially.

Elizabeth Aleman also finished the class.

She has been employed with KI close to 19 years.

She works in sanding, but wanted to learn how to sew because the hours in that department would help her earning potential.

“We still need people that do the basics of manufacturing and this happens to be one of them,” Neves said.

Registration is open for the next furniture sewing course. It begins June 4 and ends Oct 3.

The class is taught at the High Point campus Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Visit GTCC’s website to register.