20 December 2021

A total of 118 organisations have signed a new Pact for Skills that Europe’s main representative bodies for textiles, clothing, leather and footwear have drawn up, writes Leatherbiz.

As part of an initiative promoted by the European Commission and by the umbrella organisations for textiles, clothing, leather and footwear in Europe, the pact calls for recognition of a “skills challenge” in these industries, and for a commitment to addressing this.

Industry bodies involved are COTANCE for leather, CEC for footwear and EURATEX for textiles and clothing want companies throughout Europe to address the issue by investing in reskilling and upskilling workers, integrating green and digital skills and improving the attractiveness of their industries to potential new employees.

Employers, social partners, national and regional authorities, plus education and training providers will all be involved in fulfilling these ambitions. Benefits that signatories to the pact will receive include networking, guidance and resources offered by the European Commission; this assistance should become available from the early part of 2022.

Specific to textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, there will be five objectives, each with a certain number of target actions already identified.

The first of these is to promote a culture of lifelong learning for all, for which the actions include designing and rolling out courses to promote new technologies and digital skills, promoting durability, repair and waste management activities and circular design skills.

Second of the five objectives is to build a strong skills partnership with relevant stakeholders, which should lead to cross-sectoral partnerships between industry, education providers and authorities.

Monitoring skills demand and anticipating skills needs is the third objective. To reach it, industry, policy and education stakeholders will establish a dedicated ‘skills observatory’.

Work against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities is the fourth objective. Signatories will launch a diversity manifesto and a supporting initiative to improve gender balance and ensure equal opportunities for all.

Lastly, there will be dedicated information campaigns, showcasing opportunities in the sector and promoting mobility for young workers.

Secretary general of COTANCE, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, said the leather industry’s representative body was pleased with this initiative. “Teaming up with our partners in the eco-system will allow us to generate the critical mass that will help individual companies in our sector maintain and increase the skills that make them competitive in global markets.”

He said he looked forward to seeing more companies join the pact in the near future.

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