SCHOOL IS IN: “Passion for craftsmanship can take you very far,” said Bernard Arnault, recalling Louis Vuitton’s rise from a “lone craftsman in his native Jura” who “thanks to his skills allowed us to now have the first luxury goods brand in the world” during the matriculation ceremony of the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence training program on Thursday.

The initiative, which launched in 2014, has grown from 28 students at its inception to 300 matriculating this year.

“What creates desire is product, and creation would not exist without the skills of the craftspeople who are behind the success of our houses,” said Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH’s group executive vice president, human resources and synergies.

Gaemperle insisted on the program’s focus on “work-training to practical, tangible, certifying, free and paid educational tracks” to “encourage employability” and also underlined the need for “training strategies to promote learning throughout one’s career,” to address the evolving needs of employees called upon to work longer. She found satisfaction in seeing apprenticeship restored to its former sterling reputation, she later added.

Among the new educational tracks offered this year, which now range from the CAP to master’s degrees, are a leathermaking course with Florence’s Polimoda design school, one in goldsmithing at the professional training center For.Al in Valenza; a master track in design, fashion and creative industries, in partnership with Ecole Duperré and the Sorbonne-Nouvelle university, and a Client Adviser course, taught in English, in conjuction with the EIML Paris marketing school.

Further international developments have also come to fruition, with the opening of the Istituto dei Mestieri d’Eccellenza LVMH, to be housed in Palazzo Pucci in Florence.

The institute’s director Florence Rambaud revealed that of the class of 2017 that graduated last July, 90 percent have found a job, including 65 percent within the LVHM group and its contractors. 82 percent of the graduates also received a distinction of excellence.

Arnault urged students to remember that craftspeople were “witnesses and authors” judged on the quality of their work but that “bringing the best quality isn’t the only thing, it’s necessary to do it with passion, creativity is what the craftsperson can bring — often, the ‘good idea’ comes from the workshop.”

Thursday’s ceremony was an occasion to showcase the creations by graduated classes, which ran the gamut of fashion design, trunkmaking but also culinary design – the cocktail was created by students attending the program’s courses with culinary school Ecole Ferrandi.

Currently spread throughout the group’s premises, the IME is set to get its own campus within the next three years, as part of the La Maison LVMH/Arts-Talents-Patrimoine campus, formerly the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires, located near the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the 16th arrondissement.