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September 1999

Timepieces: News


Institute looks to retailers and manufacturers to join training efforts

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute has approved use of Switzerland's top watchmaker training school's 3,000-hour course. In a unanimous vote, the AWI Board of Directors approved the courses certified by the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training & Educational Program (WOSTEP) in Neuchâtel, says AWI President David Christianson.

AWI becomes the fifth fully certified facility in the United States to offer the full WOSTEP course. The others are North Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA; University of Oklahoma, Okmulgee, OK; St. Paul Technical College, St. Paul, MN; and the Texas Institute of
Jewelry Technology, Paris, TX.

The first students in the new course will enter in the August 2000 AWI Academy program. Formerly a one-year program, the academy now will be two years with the addition of the WOSTEP course, says Christianson. A minimum of 10 students are expected for the initial class, though AWI can accommodate more if needed, he says.

Placing Students
Several major watch companies have expressed a desire to place students in the classes at AWI and other schools. This was one result of a recent AWI and WOSTEP meeting in New York City with representatives of many major companies.

Such participation in training in the U.S. is critical, says Anthony Riggio, national service director for watch retailer Tourneau and acting chairman of the AWI Industry Advisory Board. "We have far fewer fully trained people entering watchmaking today – demand far exceeds supply," he says. "We are all desperate for technicians."

Jim Lubic, who heads the AWI training program, says recent graduates of the AWI Academy all were able to secure positions in the industry before they graduated. "Also retailers and service centers realize they need to offer stronger salaries and benefits than have been offered in the past."
Tuition for the new program at AWI is $8,000 per year, with scholarships available to qualified students. Contact AWI at (513) 367-9800,

– by Michael Thompson

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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