The spring of 2021 has seen a concerted, virtual, effort to attract new talent to the European Textiles, Clothing, Leather and Footwear (TCLF) sectors by the partners of the Erasmus+ Skills4Smart TCLF industries 2030 Blueprint (S4TCLF) project.
Between February and April, over 600 14-18 year olds from Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Romania took part in ‘Your First Step in TCLF’ virtual career and opportunity orientations webinars, introducing them to these sectors, relevant contributors to the European economy. In 2019, the TCLF industries generated more than E200 billion in turnover and directly employ more than 2 million European workers across almost 225 thousand companies.
The project partners created new materials and guidance for virtual orientations, that clearly explain the extensive opportunities that exist in the complex, contemporary C21st TCLF industries. The industries are respected throughout the world for their design, high quality production and heritage, and students were also introduced to some of the innovative technical, green, and digital roles that are in high demand from employers, roles which are not so well known, but will be in greater demand in future years.
From Tuscany, Italy …
The first to run a school’s orientation was the established textile district of Prato (Tuscany) in February, as part of the "Ė di moda il mio futuro" programme organised by Confindustria Toscana Nord with the support of PIN (Educational and Scientific Services for the University of Florence). Alessandro De Rosa, Head of Higher Education at PIN explained:
“We involved about 300 students from the last year of high school to guide them to what the European project identified as the most innovative skills of the future, which will complement the "classic" skills of the key professional figures in the sector. But the message is broader: whatever your talents - scientific, manual, creative, digital, managerial, or technical - within TCLF you can find a space where you can express them. It was important to involve young professionals from our companies and this message was clearly expressed by them. Through the interviews young workers highlighted how, having entered a TCLF company, they discovered a world much more attractive than they had imagined, rich in stimuli, varied and dynamic, where you (or they?) never stop learning, rediscovering the heritage of the industry but matching it with modern innovation and design”.
You can read more about the orientation here.
… to Iasi, Romania
Another partner to collaborate in the organisation of an orientation webinar was Professor Aura Mihai, of the Faculty of Industrial Design & Business Management, Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi (TUIASI). The Orientation took place as part of their Open Days series.
"It is known that more than 65% of children in primary school will work in professions that do not yet exist.
In addition to traditional occupations, such as those of maker, engineer, designer, or manager of a TCLF company, we introduced young people in VET secondary education to careers they probably had not even thought about, such as those that relate to the current needs of sustainability and digitisation of TCLF companies in Romania. We presented new occupational profiles such as developers of solutions for product design and development, e-commerce and customisation, manufacturing, planning and production processes."
Of real interest to our future students were the interventions from the business community working in digital TCLF functions. The event was a great success and we have succeeded in offering new opportunities to potential new talent in these key roles”.
And everywhere in between: The key role of VET in attracting new talent
Vocational Education and Training (VET) plays a decisive role in addressing demographic, labour, and technological change for the TCLF industry clusters in Europe. Robust and agile VET systems make regional economic structures more responsive to disruptions and uncertainty, boost TCLF companies' growth and attract better-qualified young talent.
Carmen Arias, DG of the European Footwear Confederation said
“Many TCLF companies are at the smaller end of the SME categorisation, so they do not have the resources to maintain on their own, a regular promotional activity for young people. TCLF companies are very pleased with this initiative. VET institutions with the collaboration of company workers are perfectly placed to support these orientations, not only for young people in their regions, but also for those unemployed to help them enter a new career, alongside upskilling company employees”.
The successful orientations initiative will be replicated in other countries and will continue on a yearly basis. A common effort will promote the positive TCLF opportunity message through Europe within the strategy of supporting productivity and growth in the TCLF sectors.
Sector Skills Alliances for implementing a new strategic approach to sectoral cooperation on skills (“Blueprint”)
Agreement n. 2017- 3536/001-001
(Project number - 591986-EPP-1-2017-1-BE-EPPKA2-SSA-B)
01st January 2018 –31st December 2021
Brussels, May 2021