On 28 November 2014, social partners, skills council partners, European Commission representatives and TCLF sector stakeholders gathered in Brussels for presentation of the TCLF 2014 report. Spain joined the council this year through participation of Fundación Tripartita para la Formación en el Empleo (Tripartite Foundation for Training in Employment).

At the conference, European social partners and national industry skills partnerships (ISPs) showcased results achieved during the second year of their activities.

The European TCLF sector is undergoing a renaissance. A sector that has experienced turbulent recent history is now beginning to reemerge, leaner and more confident of its place in the world. Driven by creativity and innovation, products manufactured by the European TCLF sector range from traditionally-crafted fashion and textile goods through to scientifically-led technical items.

However, there are several immediate challenges that threaten to impact on TCLF sectors’ growth potential. The sector has an ageing and experienced workforce close to retirement whose high-level skills could soon be lost. There is an urgent need to attract a new generation of workers to the sector and to train them effectively.

Very carefully consideration must be given to how to plan skills investment in TCLF, where fundamental changes have occurred and several key employment and skills challenges remain. Ensuring that changing TCLF requirements are fully understood and that skills solutions and their delivery mechanisms are effective in meeting industry needs is therefore imperative.

A concerted effort from all industry stakeholders is called for. A true, focused partnership between the European Commission, individual nations, employers, professional bodies, trade associations and unions is essential. Additionally, it requires ability to influence and guide change at all levels of the education, skills and training systems.

With support from the European Commission, the European TCLF Skills Council is uniquely placed to contribute to this effort and to make a significant positive impact on the sector’s future, embedded in wider European reindustrialisation strategies.

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