Like a pair of old shoes, Europe’s footwear industry is aging. The sector, while an example of European excellence and economic success, faces two main challenges, namely an aging workforce and a lack of attractiveness of the sector for younger generations based on misconceptions from the past.
In their constant efforts to promote the European footwear industry and attract newcomers, the European Footwear Confederation and a group of European experts launched virtually last week the Erasmus+ SHOEGAME project, “Developing Key Competencies in VET for the Footwear Industry through Serious Games”, based on the development and implementation of a serious game. With such an innovative and fun educational approach that also considers the upgrade of curricula with environmental and digital skills, children and new VET students can learn about the occupations but also values of the footwear industry. In this way, it is expected that the SHOEGAME will equip younger generations with soft and transversal skills, particularly environmental, digital and technological skills.
The serious game will attract newcomers to VET courses and motivate the students who are already enrolled to continue with their studies, as well as contribute to the flexibility and quality of the VET training, by preparing teachers to implement the methodology and tools developed in their teaching practices. In order to better align VET education and industry’s needs, the game will teach students about numerous relevant topics in footwear manufacturing: from design to the finished product, sustainable practices in eco-design, recycling, green economy, and many more. In addition, the platform will also include communication features in order to foster a sense of community between all participants.
The project counts a diverse and experienced consortium from five European Member States: the Technical University of Iasi leading the initiative, and the technical Secondary school (Alexandru cel Bun High school) both in Romania, the European Footwear Confederation (CEC) based in Belgium, the footwear technology centers of Portugal and Spain (CTCP and INESCOP) with deep knowledge of footwear manufacturing and materials, a technology provider (Virtual Campus) expert in developing online educational games and other training tools and a Greek non-profit entity (CRETHIDEV) that promotes life-long learning through innovation and research.
With the innovative use of a fun and engaging gamification learning approach, the SHOEGAME project expects to contribute to boosting the motivation of footwear VET students and attracting newcomers, making them discover the values and occupations of the industry. In addition, a digital tool such as a serious game with immersive educational activities will prove once again the footwear sector’s ability to continuously innovate and will provide a real gamechanger for its attractiveness.