LVMH preparing 700 apprentices to fill artisan gap

3 mins read

Luxury conglomerate LVMH, headed by Bernard Arnault, anticipates a substantial workforce shortage, projecting a record shortfall of 22,000 employees by the end of 2025. The majority of these positions, two-thirds, are expected to be in sales and hotel staff, particularly at LVMH’s boutiques, including renowned brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior, as well as at its luxury hotels globally. The remaining third will comprise craftspeople and designers responsible for imparting a unique touch to the conglomerate’s products.

In response to this looming staffing deficit, LVMH has devised a plan to address the shortage by significantly ramping up its apprenticeship program. The company aims to train 700 apprentices globally in 2023, a substantial increase compared to the 180 apprentices it had in 2018. The focus of the apprenticeship program spans various roles, from sales positions at boutiques to craftspeople contributing to the artistic value of products.

One noteworthy aspect of this initiative is LVMH’s collaboration with Tiffany & Co., the American jeweller acquired by LVMH in 2021. Tiffany & Co. is partnering with institutions like the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Studio Jewellers to provide comprehensive training that combines theoretical knowledge with practical, hands-on experience. This strategic move aims to ensure a pipeline of skilled workers in both creative and technical aspects of luxury craftsmanship.

The apprenticeship model is more prevalent in European countries like France, Germany, and Switzerland, where it serves as a traditional and effective method for training workers. However, LVMH’s expanded apprenticeship program, particularly in the luxury sector, is a notable departure from the more common apprenticeships in the U.S., which are often associated with trades like construction, plumbing, and electrician work.

LVMH’s efforts to bolster its workforce through apprenticeships, along with the focus on reskilling—where approximately 33% of new apprentices are learning new skills related to their current jobs—reflect the company’s commitment to maintaining the high standards of craftsmanship and service associated with its luxury brands. The increased interest in reskilling, especially among older individuals, indicates a desire to engage in more tactile, hands-on work, steering away from the digital realm.

If successful, LVMH’s apprenticeship initiative could set a precedent in the luxury industry, demonstrating the viability of this approach to training and addressing workforce shortages in high-end, artisanal sectors. The emphasis on practical, hands-on experience aligns with the intricate and artistic nature of luxury craftsmanship, emphasising the importance of learning by doing.