The report recommends that during the junior high school period girls who expect to enter the sewing trades should be given work in mechanical drawing, elementary science, industrial conditions, elementary mechanics and hand and machine sewing. The fundamentals of sewing can be thoroughly taught in two years. The work during the first year might well be limited to hand sewing. Machine sewing should be taken up in the second year, and the girls given an opportunity during the third year to specialize somewhat broadly in a trade school on the kind of work in which they may wish to engage—power operating, dressmaking, or millinery.
Specialized training must be conducted under conditions closely resembling those found in the industry. This involves equipment similar to that used in the factory, an ample supply of materials, and a corps of teachers who have had practical experience. It might seem that on the score of adequate equipment the factory itself would be the place for such training. But the fact is that the main object of the factory is to turn out as large a quantity as possible of saleable product. In the school the main object should be to turn out as large a quantity of saleable skill and knowledge as possible, with the saleable product as a secondary, although necessary, feature.
The junior high school is not the place for specialized trade training, since it is reasonably certain that there would not be a sufficient number of girls in each junior high school desiring to enter a single trade to warrant the provision of special equipment and special teachers. For this reason the report favors a trade course in a separate school plant where girls who wish to specialize in any of the sewing trades can be taught in fairly large classes. The work done during the past few years in such institutions as the Boston Trade School for Girls and the Manhattan Trade School for Girls in New York City gives evidence of the practicability of this plan.
The only instruction offered by the public school system at the present time which can be considered as trade-extension training for the garment industries is that given in the sewing classes in the technical night schools. The enrollment in these classes during the second term of 1915-16 was 229. Only a small proportion of the girls and women enrolled in the night sewing classes make their living by sewing. The students employed by day in clothing factories or in any of the sewing trades constitute somewhat less than 15 per cent of the total number enrolled. Nearly half of the enrollment is made up of workers in commercial, clerical or professional pursuits and approximately one-third are not employed in any gainful occupation.
In both technical night schools the emphasis is laid on training for home sewing rather than on training for wage earning. The courses now given are not planned for workers in the garment trades, but to help women and girls who want to learn how to make, alter, and repair their own garments.