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Footwear goes to school to talk about sustainability

01 Feb 2024

News Footwear goes to school to talk about sustainability
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Overconsumption and the importance of the choices we make every day that affect the planet. The primacy of social responsibility and sustainability. Support for the local economy. The materials of the future. The significance of the footwear industry in Portugal. These are some issues that APICCAPS has been tackling with thousands of young students as part of its "Knowledge Roadmap”.

With the aim of "promoting the potential of the footwear industry”, "valuing the territory and local activities” and "boosting the local industry”, the Knowledge Roadmap, promoted by APICCAPS, has been carrying out awareness-raising in 86 schools in Felgueiras, Guimarães, Oliveira de Azeméis, Santa Maria da Feira and S. João da Madeira. "This is a great opportunity to present the industry of the future and to raise young people’s awareness of sustainability from an early age”, says Paulo Gonçalves, coordinator of this initiative, which is part of the "BioShoes4all” project, supported by the Portuguese government and the European Commission under the PRR.

This "Knowledge Roadmap”, which will run for three years under the Footwear Cluster 2030 Strategic Plan, aims to help transform the footwear industry into an "international benchmark of the footwear industry and reinforce the Portuguese exports, combining successfully sophistication and creativity with productive efficiency, based on technological development and management of the international value chain, thus ensuring the future of a national productive basis, sustainable and highly competitive”.

First, according to APICCAPS, "it’s important to tackle a series of stereotypes related to industrial sectors that are prevalent and need to be demystified”. "Although this is not an exclusively Portuguese problem, there is a lot of work to be done”, recalls Paulo Gonçalves. Data from the European Commission shows that the European fashion industry will need 500,000 new employees by 2030, a reality that affects countries like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. "With this Knowledge Roadmap, we want to prepare the generations of the future and attract a new generation of talent”.

In the first phase, the initiatives were aimed at primary school students. But already this year, 2nd cycle and 3rd cycle students are being targeted. It’s also worth highlighting the role of local authorities in the areas where the footwear industry is concentrated, who are "true partners in this Knowledge Roadmap and play a very important role in the development of the educational programme”.

The footwear industry employs 40,730 people (2022 data), having created 3,259 jobs in the same year (growth of 8.7%). "As the sector evolves to new levels of demand, so does the need for recruitment of increasingly skilled staff”, argues APICCAPS. For this reason, in addition to the development of initiatives in schools and training centres, "street actions and a campaign in digital environments closer to students will be promoted”. At the same time, APICCAPS will promote a closer partnership with stakeholders and will continue to work with the Portuguese Footwear Technology Centre to develop more friendly technological solutions capable of attracting future generations.