In many countries like Romania (RO) and Portugal (PT) Vocational Education and Training (VET) is considered as second choice; as an educational pathway for those who failed in reaching Higher Education (HE). One of the main reasons of this rather poor image of VET is that it often must be considered as a “dead-end” educational pathway; once you started a “blue collar” job; no or only few options of career opportunities in terms of Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET) exist. Thus, more challenging occupations like working for the Quality Assurance (QA), Design or Production Planning departments are reserved for colleagues with an educational background from HE.
But even in countries with established CVET-programmes like Germany (DE), where the qualifications of an industrial or handicraft foreman or technician are country-wide acknowledged and have a very good image, the academic drift is obvious. For our sector (industrial shoe production) a worrying indicator is: In the last two years, when the only industrial foreman course for this occupation was offered, not enough participants (countrywide only six needed) applied – and the courses had to be withdrawn.
Thus, strengthening CVET is a crucial element of increasing attractiveness of VET and assuring its high quality. Target groups are colleagues, having been qualified via Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET) in the sector of industrial shoe production.
For this purpose, partners of project “Developing Innovative and Attractive CVET programmes in industrial shoe production” (DIA-CVET) have chosen 10 spheres of activities of industrial shoe production like “operational organisation” or “materials for shoe production” where autonomous work is beyond competences of skilled workers (considering skilled work on European Qualification Framework (EQF) level 3 or 4). We aim at developing, piloting and implementing comprehensive courses for each of these spheres on European level; available in English (EN) as well as in DE, RO and PT. We do not aim at developing a unified European CVET (like an “EU industrial foreman”) profile, as we respect the principle of subsidiarity in educational subjects and are aware of the different preconditions and needs regarding qualifications in our three countries.
Piloting of our courses is foreseen as a “feasibility study”, direct beneficiaries will be 10 skilled workers from shoe industry. Via accompanying measures like an “Advisory Board” (AB), workshops and others we aim at reaching and involving delegates from all relevant stakeholders (companies, trade unions, chambers, competent bodies, training centres, networks) from the sector in our three countries.
But project has additionally a broader scope; it aims at transparency at CVET levels within shoe sector for all stakeholders, especially social partners, companies, and authorities. To accept Learning Outcomes (LO) from another learning venue, to hire a skilled foreman from another country, or to trust national qualifications from another country is an ongoing challenge. Project consortium developed successfully a Sector Qualification Framework for footwear sector for level 2-4 in the previous project ICSAS (cp. http://icsas-project.eu/wpcontent/uploads/2020/04/06_SQF-Table_EN.pdf). Consequently the development of (and the referencing of existing or developed national CVET qualifications in DE, RO, and PT to) a sector qualification framework for levels 5-7 will be another important objective of proposed project DIA-CVET and available for future levelling of new CVET-profiles or profiles of other countries after the project’s lifetime.
Regarding long-term impact or sustainability, we aim additionally at implementing dual CVET-courses for industrial shoemakers in the Romanian and Portuguese VET-systems (as happened successfully with dual IVET-courses during ICSAS) – and to support the reinvigorating of the industrial foreman course in Germany.