31 Jan 2024
TCLF Skills Alliance Feedback Note on European Commission's Call for Evidence titled
“A blueprint for a future joint European degree, accompanied by recommendations on quality assurance and on attractive academic careers in higher education”.
Brussels, 31 January 2024
The TCLF Skills Alliance, as part of the European Commission’s Pact for Skills, plays a pivotal role in the Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear (TCLF) sectors. Our alliance consists today of more than 170 European companies, associations and regional authorities, and since its launch in December 2021, it is dedicated to upskilling and reskilling initiatives, ensuring that EU TCLF sectors remain competitive and sustainable in the rapidly evolving global market.
Through this joint statement, the TCLF Skills Alliance aims to express its strong support for the European Commission's European Degree Package initiative, emphasizing how this initiative will contribute to solving the unique challenges in TCLF sectors, particularly in skills development towards the digital and sustainable sectors’ transformation, and the modernisation and attraction of education systems for students.
Support for the Initiative
The Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear (TCLF) industries in Europe, generating an annual turnover of EUR 195 billion in 2019 and employing 2 million workers across 220,600 companies, were among the first to be impacted by the green and digital transitions’ skills requirements of the Green Deal launched by the European Commission in December 2019. Prior, TCLF industry representatives had identified the need to address the sector's challenges in this field, and understood that striving for excellence required joint efforts backed by transnational and multi-stakeholder cooperation.
A significant step in this direction was done under the Erasmus+ Blueprint “Skills4Smart TCLF Industries 2030” project, implemented from January 2018 to June 2022. After a mapping and analysis of the different VET education systems in the EU, this project created a dynamic and sustainable EU community of diverse private and public actors dedicated to supporting skill development and employment opportunities in the TCLF sectors along an EU and various national skills strategies.
This initiative has positioned the TCLF sectors as a leader in innovation and inclusiveness within the European Education Area. Since then, our collaboration has evolved into two new Blueprint flagship projects, METASKILLS4TCLF and AEQUALIS4TCLF, launched in 2023 and 2024 respectively. These projects already align with the Commission's European Degree Package initiative and will, throughout their implementation, provide the Commission with best practices and expertise on innovative joint educational activities.
The METASKILLS4TCLF project, involving 21 partners from 11 European countries, focuses on key aspects including updating EU Skills Strategies at EU and national levels, and developing skills strategies for other countries not addressed under the first Blueprint (Sweden,Germany, and Ukraine), in order to create coherence and synergy opportunities in the TCLF sectors. This involves forming public-private collaborative skills alliances at regional level and developing respective regional Pacts for Skills. Additionally, the project aims to develop a European Virtual Reality Campus, with innovative curricula and training resources, using new methodologies and ensuring collaboration across Europe to align training programmes with the rapidly evolving needs of TCLF sectors.
In addition, the AEQUALIS4TCLF project is dedicated to ensure the quality and recognition of vocational and higher education programmes, not only within EU member states but also in third countries, such as Serbia. It aims to potentially secure some level of formal acknowledgment for curricula and qualifications in the TCLF ecosystem, thus bridging and streamlining the various efforts within TCLF industries.
To complement the activities under the already mentioned ERASMUS+ Blueprint projects, the TCLF Skills Alliance has signed a direct grant with the Commission’s DG GROW to create regional partnerships under the Pact for Skills to summon all important stakeholders of the sector to achieve the above mentioned goals.
These ongoing projects until 2027 address the TCLF sectors' specific education challenges and opportunities by providing tailored education with innovative attractive methods and tools in order to bridge the skills gap thanks to private-public transnational stakeholders collaboration.
We are confident that the implementation of the European Joint Degree package initiative will significantly reinforce our efforts in addressing these challenges, while it will provide the EU institutions with the expertise and information needed to effectively implement the initiative.
Expectations and Recommendations
In addition to our recommendation to follow the developments of the METASKILLS4TCLF and AEQUALIS4TCLF projects, that will be supplying the European Commission with best practices for establishing joint educational activities at Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) levels through transnational and multi-stakeholder collaboration:
We also anticipate that the European Joint Degree Initiative will foster the development of joint MA and PhD programmes specifically tailored for the TCLF sectors.
The European Joint Degree Initiative is expected to significantly enhance curriculum development, industry relevance, and international collaboration. The initiative will enable the development of specialised, cutting-edge curricula, tailored specifically to the evolving needs of the Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear industries. This will involve integrating sustainable practices, digital transformation strategies, and the latest innovations in textile technology.
Moreover, by aligning the curriculum with industry requirements, the initiative will increase the attractiveness and relevance of these programs to current and future industry professionals. This relevance is critical not only for the upskilling and reskilling of the current workforce but also for attracting new talent into the TCLF sectors. The initiative will help in creating a workforce that is well-equipped to meet the challenges and leverage the opportunities of the modern TCLF industries.
Furthermore, the Joint Degree Initiative is expected to foster robust international collaboration. By facilitating partnerships between European universities, the initiative will enable talent exchange within the EU and with other non-EU countries. Notably, the leather industry was the first to engage in an initiative for an international Joint Master program within Erasmus Mundus, recognising that this would enhance the overall quality of education and research in the European leather industry. More broadly, teaching Textile, Leather, and Footwear technologies in English would enable easier learning mobility, leading to the creation of innovative MA and PhD programs that serve not only the TCLF sectors but also contribute to the broader goals of the European Education Area.
Additionally, we wish to emphasize the significance of the European Network of TCLF Vocational Education Providers, launched in 2020, in enhancing standardization and collaboration, not only across EU member states but also with our neighboring countries. This network is instrumental in promoting best practices and innovation in training and education, and will be further reinforced under the METASKILLS4TCLF and AEQUALIS4TCLF projects to include Higher Education and other countries education centres.
The TCLF Skills Alliance welcomes the Commission’s European Degree Package initiative that promises to be a transformative step for the TCLF sectors, and looks forward to cooperating with competent authorities in the development and implementation of a regulation. We are committed to making the TCLF sectors stronger as dynamic contributors of the European economy and are always ready to provide the Commission with best practices and expertise on innovative joint educational activities.
On behalf of the TCLF Skills Alliance,
CEC, COTANCE, EURATEX
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