The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) Manufacturing Innovation Institute is partnering with the leadership of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) programs across the United States to ensure that the FCS textile curriculum is recognized as a valuable entry point to STEM-based careers in advanced functional fabrics.
AFFOA’s Education and Workforce Development (EWD) Team envisions a world where foundational skills learned through FCS education programs are supportive of the advanced textile industry to meet the need for a diverse workforce, including innovative researchers, creative engineers, and skilled production-line technicians – all of whom are projected to find inspiration and living-wage employment in the advanced fabrics industry.
In order to meet that vision, AFFOA’s EWD mission is to inspire, prepare, and grow a skilled workforce that aligns with the future needs and landscape of the textile industry. The EWD team develops, manages, and expands programs that support current and future advanced fabric workers from cradle to career, helping the overall textile workforce evolve into a more technical and interdisciplinary field. The team’s efforts use an equity lens to identify and address specific workforce needs, fostering a holistic approach to worker support. This approach will ensure a robust workforce composed of those from a variety of economic and social backgrounds working together to create a thriving advanced fabric industry.
“Introducing today’s secondary students to the growing workforce needs of the textiles and apparel industry is vitally important, especially when this field is missing from the current career cluster model. Forming a partnership with AFFOA means Family & Consumer Sciences Education once again has their thumb on the heartbeat of this industry today and for the future.” shared Gayla Randel, LEADFCS Education Representative and NW Regional Apparel and Textiles Task Force.
Family and Consumer Sciences programs across the country are a valuable, yet in AFFOA’s opinion, an underutilized conduit to advanced fabric careers. AFFOA and FCS leadership in the Mountain West region (Montana, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington) are currently assessing the regional textile workforce needs, exploring how to align FCS curricula, and planning on providing fabric STEM-based experiences to populations traditionally underserved by STEM experiences in general (e.g., female workers and rural populations).
AFFOA is looking forward over the coming years to produce a variety of research-based materials and new Textile based STEM experiences for Family and Consumer Science students nationwide. Please reach out to AFFOA (EWD@affoa.org) with comments and questions.