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Getting Schooled On The Future Of Housewares

I wrote in this space earlier this year about the promise of new job growth in housewares and the importance of hiring the right people based on their potential to contribute to long-term goals and not solely on how their basic skills might fill current needs.
David Brogna can help.
Brogna, who splits his time between teaching about housewares at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and selling housewares at his specialty store on Long Island’s East End, is featured in the “Nouveau: Ultimate Tabletop” supplement inside the April 4, 2011, edition of HomeWorld Business.
At FIT, Brogna heads what is said to be the world’s only accredited program offering a Bachelor of Science degree in housewares development.

Talent Pipeline
With a comprehensive curriculum that takes college juniors and seniors through all facets of the housewares industry— from product design and manufacturing to packaging, marketing and merchandising— FIT’s Home Products Development program for nearly two decades has opened the pipeline for a steady flow of young talent to several housewares companies.
Young talent makes up critical building blocks for the future of any industry at any time. Getting more young talent excited about entering the housewares industry these days, though, might require even more of the type of dedicated effort embodied by FIT’s program.
Housewares typically doesn’t show up on lists of preferred businesses for the cap-and-gown crowd, not nearly as desirable as high fashion, high tech, high finance and other presumably high-profile industries. But housewares can be one of the most stable and satisfying long-term career choices with its mix of innovative product development, sales and marketing opportunities and the relative security of an industry less prone to the severe peaks and valleys of trendier or financially vulnerable market segments.

Proud Career Choice
There are plenty of examples across this industry’s landscape where companies and associations are doing their part to promote housewares as a robust and proud career choice. The International Housewares Association has helped place many young designers into the housewares industry through its annual student design competition supported by several prominent college programs. Many suppliers, retailers and industry affiliates are generous with scholarships. Also, a number of executives teach business classes using their housewares experiences as real-world textbooks.

Extra Credit
Still, the housewares industry can do more to train and capture its share of the best young talent.
The home products focus that makes Brogna’s FIT program so unique also underscores the untapped opportunity for more colleges, universities and trade schools across the country to build course concentrations zeroing in on the housewares industry. Just as several housewares companies support the FIT program, industry endowment, formal or otherwise, could seed the creation of additional academic programs dedicated to housewares training.
From the time our children are old enough to bake a cake or vacuum the floor, they become immersed in the everyday benefits of housewares innovation. The industry’s challenge is to make sure it all doesn’t seem so mundane when it’s time to pick a career.
Cooperation among the industry and higher-learning institutions to cultivate more undergraduate programs centered on housewares could help the industry’s appeal resonate louder and more frequently in high school guidance offices across the country.
That could provide the extra credit the housewares business needs to find the right people for its long-term goals.