LVMH welcomed 300 new apprentices at the IME on Tuesday.

PARIS — “At LVMH, we are all artisans,” declared LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, speaking at the sixth edition of the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence’s welcoming ceremony on Tuesday.

The luxury company toasted its 300 new apprentices for the 2019 school year — ten times the number of trainees in the program’s inaugural class, which debuted in 2014.

“The success of our group, which is based on brands that are all artisanal, depends on the quality and the work of all the artisans at each of our brands,” Arnault continued. “Craftsmanship is at the heart of our activities and at the heart of our corporate values.”

The Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, or institute for métiers of excellence, aims to create a bridge between the luxury business, in constant need of trained artisans, and students planning for the future, recruited every year via a vocational fair in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.

The free, yearlong work-study apprenticeships enable students to learn skills through a combination of classroom education at leading schools and hands-on experience in the workshops of LVMH houses and partners.

These vocational training programs, open to both students and adult learners, are done in partnership with top French schools in jewelry, dressmaking, watchmaking, leather goods, client advisory, retail design, winemaking, gastronomy and beauty. They include the École de la Bijouterie-Joaillerie de Paris for jewelry, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne for fashion and Les Compagnons du Devoir for leather goods.

Since the inception of the project, the IME has trained 800 artisans in four countries: The program has bases in France, Italy, Switzerland and now Spain, which was opened in 2019 with an “Introduction to Leather Goods” program initiated between Les Compagnons du Devoir and luxury brand Loewe.

Seven additional training programs complete the IME’s catalogue of 28 courses. These new programs for 2019 include a makeup formulation course with the Orléans IUT technical school in collaboration with LVMH Research Center and cosmetics school ISIPCA.

“It’s the first time that our houses themselves came to us with specific training needs,” said Florence Rambaud, director of the IME.

“This new training course, named ‘The Art and Science of Makeup Formulation,’ stemmed from a need for a program that blended the scientific and the artistic, which didn’t exist in other schools,” she continued. “More than just creating a bridge between luxury houses and schools, the IME can also come up with made-to-measure programs to fit with the industry’s needs — all the houses that reached out to us were looking to recruit these specific profiles.”

Another new addition in the catalogue is the IME Malletier trunk-making course, reserved for selected IME apprentices at the Louis Vuitton workshop in Asnières, as well as a ‘Sales Adviser’ program that will debut in 2020 with the reopening of department store La Samaritaine: 70 students will be trained three months at EMASUP business school in Paris before joining the new La Samaritaine team.

“We completely customized the existing EMASUP course to fit with La Samaritaine’s needs and its specific clientele,” explained Rambaud.

The event ended with a graduation ceremony, for which Rambaud called eight graduates onto the stage to represent the 78 apprentices receiving their certification. The IME boasts a 97 percent graduation rate for 2019, with a 74 percent placement rate, either in jobs related to the studied course or further training. Sixty-one percent of IME students have found jobs within LVMH brands or its partners.

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