Titled; “Innovative Fashion: closing the gap between education and employment”, the conference was attended by various stakeholders, EU institution officials, industry associations, trade unions, and education providers, “who were all invited to work together to recognise and adopt the new learning model of manufacturing occupations”.

Developed under the Erasmus+ project Learn2Work, the ‘on- the- job-training’ methodology was inspired by the successful Danish ‘Production School model’. It is based on ‘learning by doing’ and introduces a “comprehensive set of social, personal, and professional skills, necessary for good performance and professional growth in the work place”, says CEC. Specially designed for NEET people (young people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training, who are at risk of continued and future unemployment), the teaching, supported by peer-to-peer learning, is led by tutors who use innovative assessment tools that enhance students’ motivation.

The three pilot exercises carried out last year in educational centres in Italy, Portugal and Spain, showed the students presented a high level of interest, motivation, self-esteem and adaptability in the work environment. The project partners said they now count on Europe’s regional authorities and education providers in Italy, Portugal and Spain to work together to recognise the Learn2Work model, “as this will give young people a chance to develop a successful and rewarding career in a sector which heavily relies on and values highly skilled and dedicated workers”.

The CEC concluded by calling on public administrations at EU, national and regional levels, to facilitate a smoother transition from education to work in order to quickly adapt to rapid industry changes, which are led by digitalisation and new technologies.