An innovative partnership in Portugal that helps unemployed textile workers gain essential ICT skills and jobs is being extended to other industries.
|Program Fast Facts |
Rising unemployment in Portugal’s textiles industry and other traditional sectors requires a strategic approach backed by practical solutions.
Sector-specific partnerships provide customized technology training and job-search support to help unemployed workers upgrade their skills for a changing economy.
- Since 2006, almost 3,000 unemployed workers have gained ICT skills qualifications
- More than 40 percent of trainees have secured new jobs and 6 percent have started new businesses
- Improved ICT skills and knowledge boosts confidence and opportunities for individuals and their communities. Launched in 2006, the TII partnership set a three-year goal to train at least 3,000 workers from the textiles sector. By mid-2009, this goal was reached, and the TII program has expanded to seven training centers in northern and central Portugal.
In Portugal, the textiles and clothing sector is a key part of the export-focused economy and a major employer. In the past decade, due to intensifying global competition, the sector has experienced significant pressures including rising unemployment. This has a particular impact on women aged over 45 with basic education, who comprise a large proportion of the industry’s workforce.
Responding to this challenge, Portugal’s Technological Center for the Textile and Clothing Industries (CITEVE) and Microsoft developed the Technology, Innovation, and Initiative (TII) program. Their goal is to help unemployed textiles workers improve their technology skills and knowledge and gain access to higher-skilled work opportunities in the sector and the wider economy.
The TII training courses focus on basic information and communications technology (ICT) skills for office work, using Microsoft technologies, curricula and certification. Further training courses are being developed, including a module on entrepreneurship skills and an e-Learning platform for TII trainers. The program also works closely with the national and municipal public authorities, local employment agencies and with private sector partners such as Transcom to assist trainees to identify and apply for new jobs.
“The TII program is very important in helping people to adapt to market place requirements today. The future is not easy but with this kind of initiative we believe that these obstacles are going to be in the past,” says Augusto Lima, CITEVE Human Resources and Training Manager.
Importantly, the TII training is also linked to Portugal’s national competencies recognition certification (‘RVCC’), which enables participants to validate their ICT skills attainments in terms of formal education equivalence. This is especially valuable for middle-aged people whose school days pre-dated the ICT revolution. In the past year, 200 TII trainees have completed the RVCC certification. In 2008, a survey by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute indicated that forty percent of unemployed workers who completed TII training secured a new job. In 2008, a survey by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute indicated that forty percent of unemployed workers who completed TII training secured a new job. Furthermore, during the first three years, six percent of TII trainees have proceeded to start new businesses of their own.
The TII approach is widely recognized as a breakthrough model, with key success factors including the close collaboration with the national and municipal public authorities; the customized training modules developed as part of industry innovation strategy; and close support from employment agencies to match candidates to jobs. The TII initiative has attracted support from European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Dr Vladimir Spidla. “I’d like to commend CITEVE, Microsoft, and the local and national government here in Portugal for this innovative partnership that creates a best practice example for others,” Commissioner Spidla said.
In 2008, Microsoft provided grant funding to extend the TII model of technology training and re-skilling to unemployed workers in Portugal’s metal, mould-making, special tooling and plastics, cork, ceramics and glass industries. Working in partnership with the Network of Technological Centers (RECET) and industry bodies for each sector, enrollments began in early 2009 and specialized ICT training centers have opened or expanded in four cities, with hundreds of workers joining the training each semester.
For Nuno Duarte, General Manager of Microsoft Portugal, the initiative draws upon Microsoft’s experience and commitment to citizenship programs. “We focus on training older workers and other groups traditionally underserved by technology, as we believe this is where Microsoft can have the greatest impact in supporting communities.”
CITEVE, the Technological Centre for the Textile and Clothing Industries of Portugal, is a non-profit public body that was created by a consortium of companies and industrial associations within the sector in conjunction with public authorities; with 600 members and 1500 clients.
CITEVE’s mission is the development of technical expertise in the Portuguese textile and clothing industries through innovation, quality improvement and contributing tothe definition of industrial policies for the sector.