EC programme to revive the textile, clothing, leather and footwear industry, launched in Romania

Romania is among those six EU countries where the European Commission is launching the „Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills”, a project meant to boost the textile, clothing, leather and footwear (TCLF) sectors in the European Union. The project is run by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and DR GROW on behalf of the European Commission and has been launched through a press conference in Bucharest on Thursday.

The initiative aims to support and get together the key stakeholders in these sectors, businesses, trade unions, research, education and training institutions, as well as public authorities in the view of stimulating concrete actions to satisfy short and medium-term skill needs.

The project, besides having a major economic component, as TLFC is one of the most innovative and productive sectors in Europe, with an annual turnover of more than EUR 200 billion around 225,000 companies, it also has a significant social part, as it involves a workforce of 2.2 million people across EU, with 66% of them being women.

As Romania has a long tradition in these sectors, it has been included in the European project, next to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Germany.

So, it is a pan-European campaign, with visits, meetings and events intended to change the image of the textile sector as being a prosperous working environment, to raise awareness on the working opportunities, to remove stereotypes of the sector and to promote its latest trends to the cutting-edge technologies, such as digitization, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain and last, but not the least, to connect the educational institutions (vocational schools) with the industry environment, by providing students with the needed training and opportunities to practice their jobs in these sectors.

The TCLF industry is represented in Europe mainly by clothing (51%), textile (31%), but also by 13% footwear and 5% leather. Among those 225,000 companies in the EU operating in this sectors, 151,000 activate in footwear and clothing and 64,100 in the textile and leather industry.

The campaign is run in six EU Countries, as mentioned, and also in Brussels, in 6 foreign languages and English. It comprises 72 events in 60 locations.

In Romania, three high schools from Brasov are included in the programme: Maria Baiulescu Technical College, Aurel Vijoli College and Kronstadt German Vocational School, as well as three employers in Brasov: Tino SA, Tamiv SA and Dräxlmaier.

There will be three meetings held between students/pupils and employers (National Centre for Development of Technical and Vocational School) in Bucharest, the Association of the Graduates of the Textile and Leather Faculty in Iasi and the Association of the leather and Fur Producers in Romania.

The time frame of the project is April 2020.

Sabina Olaru, PhD engineer and researcher, chief of the Department of Design and Research within the National Institute of Research and Development for Textile and Leather has told the press conference to launch the programme that Romania is the second largest employer in this sector in the EU.

The future of the industry is the focus on the smart products, on digitalisation. As youngsters are not attracted anymore in this industry and the current workforce is old, we need a better collaboration among the key factors to boos this sector”.

In her turn, Adriana Cioloca – engineer and professor in the textile, clothing and leather industry – voiced hope that the project will change the mentality of the young generation or of the ones who are interested in a professional reconversion and to embrace the jobs in the textile industry which isn’t repetitive, low-cost work anymore, but it’s based on digitised devices and robots.

„In a more and more globalised and digitalised world, the <Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills> project represents a new framework to develop concrete actions and strategies to respond the needs of the TCLF industries. It will continue to contribute to the economic and social growth of the EU member states, by providing new generations with a multitude of professional integration opportunities. We would like to remove stereotypes in this sectors and to help in training a new creative generation of designers and workers”, she said.

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