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Footwear sector is looking for qualified workers

31 May 2017

News Footwear sector is looking for qualified workers
The Portuguese footwear industry has shortage of qualified workforce. Year after year, the Portuguese shoes’ success on external markets has guaranteed production increase and, consequently, more labor demands. Between 2010 and 2015, the Portuguese footwear industry has created over 6.500 new jobs, mostly for qualified functions. ‘The sexiest industry in Europe’, as it is already renowned, wants to grow and to do that it needs a new generation of collaborators.

The companies want to capture young talents to fields such as design, management, production, computing ad electronics. Exports are increasing, the number of markets is extending and the sector’s production must meet the demands. In the quarterly surveys, APICCAPS (Portuguese Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association) registered that the lack of qualified workers is a systematic difficulty of the companies.
According to the latest statistics data, in 2015, the footwear sector employed approximately 39.000 people, an increase of 21% comparing to 2010. Along with the employment growth, the sector also registered a rise of companies, which dedicate themselves to footwear manufacturing. In the period 2010-2015, over 200 companies started operating. Other industries of the cluster (components production and leather goods) are no exception to these trends. The number of employees increased 33% and over 35 companies were created. The footwear sector has its industrial strength predominantly centered in the Northern region of the country. Felgueiras is the largest employer district, as well as the largest exporter, representing a total of 37% concerning this two aspects. Santa Maria da Feira, Oliveira de Azeméis, Guimarães and São João da Madeira are the other districts, which dominate the ranking of the most employer sector, representing three quarters of the total employment within the Portuguese footwear industry. Regarding employement, the industry recently celebrated an unprecedented agreement with the trade unions, which predicts equal pay to workers that perform the same functions, regardless of gender.
Schools are investing in the qualification of young people
The Design and Footwear Academy (CFPIC), which has facilities in São João da Madeira and Felgueiras, and the Professional School of Felgueiras (EPF) give training courses targeted to the needs of the footwear sector’s labor and have a high employability. The students have access to financial support for eating and transport and, in many cases, a scholarship. An internship in a company of the sector is included on the educational program.
Amélia Carvalho, EPF’s Executive Director, unfolded that for the coming school year they’ll open the following programs for students with the 9th year of school or equivalent: Footwear and Saddlery Design; Footwear Modelling; Footwear Machine Maintenance, Electronics, Automation and Computers; Management and Multimedia. As Amélia de Carvalho stated, “the meals, transport, study material and professional training are guaranteed for the student, as well as all of the equipment and services for the accomplishment of the professional aptitude test and participation in contests and projects at national and international levels”.

On its turn, the Design and Footwear Academy has already launched for the next school year the following programs, also for students with the 9th year of school or equivalent: Multimedia Technician; Sales Technician; Management Support Technician; Electronics, Automation and Control Technician; Footwear Modelling Technician and Footwear and Saddlery Machine's Technician. “All programs have financial support for the meals, transport and scholarship, which for Technological Specialization Courses (CET) is only remunerated when the students are having practical training in companies”, highlights Eduardo Costa, the director of the institution.

Concerning CET’s, the Academy starts in September the following programs, in São João da Madeira: Robotic Automation and Industrial Control; Multimedia Products’ Development; Accounting and Taxation; Footwear Design; International Trade; Networks’ management and Computer Systems; Industrial Management and Mechatronic Systems and Procedures. In Felgueiras, are predicted the programs of Multimedia Products’ Development, International Trade and Footwear Design.
According Amélia Carvalho, “the employability levels after the completion of the courses (within 8 days after) are high, which puts the programs’ rate above 77% and 95% when it comes to more technological fields”. Eduardo Costa has the same sensation: “the employability is very high”.