A European Network of Industrial Skills Partnerships

The project which has led to the creation of the European Skills Council and consequently to this web-portal of Services has at the same time allowed to establish a European Network of Observatories in the Textile, Clothing, Leather and Footwear sectors. The main task of this institution will be the identification and organisation of their knowledge about the TCLF manufacturing and working domains in order to share it at European level through the tools implemented in this web-portal.

The Network is also an opportunity to share good practices on education, training and skills at European level in the related sectors, improving knowledge and cross-pollination of ideas amongst European countries.

Towards the end of 2012, members have recognised the inappropriateness of the term “Observatory”, due to the variety of activities implemented, focus, structures and sources of funding. They therefore jointly adopted to style themselves as “Industry Skills Partnerships”, or ISPs in short.

The following organisations take part in the Network:

Centrum voor Opleiding, Bij- en Omscholing voor de Textiel- en Breigoednijverheid
Flemish Center for Education, Training and Retraining for the Textile and Hosiery Industry
more info
Instituut voor Vorming en Onderzoek in de Confectie / Institut pour le Recherche et l'Enseignement dans la Confection
Institute for Research and Training in Dressmaking
more info
esp Fundación Tripartita para la Formación en el Empleo
Tripartite Foundation for Employment Training
more info
fra OPCALIA (formerly FORTHAC)
Département Textiles - Mode - Cuirs
OPCALIA Textile – Fashion – Leather Division
more info
ita Osservatorio Nazionale Concia
National Tanning Observatory
more info
eng Creative Skillset
Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council
more info

Cobot is a non-profit sectoral training centre for the Flemish textile industry. It is managed by the board of directors, which comprises of all social partners, i.e. employers organisation Fedustria and the three trade unions. They approve unanimously on strategic matters and specific projects. The centre is funded through a compulsory contribution for education and training (0.3% of the wages of textile workers). Cobot is the industry’s first partner in training, education and guidance.

Its mission : ‘To strengthen and renew the competences in the textile industry.’

Work areas:

1. Competence management

Goal: To help a maximum number of textile companies and employees to find the way to effective training.

Training formulas:
  • open training
  • in company training
  • training in the workplace
  • e-learning
2. Labour market management

Goal: To create a balance between demand and supply on the sectoral labour market.

  • inflow actions (attracting students and job seekers)
  • retention actions (e.g. focus on the end of the career).

Website: www.cobot.be (NL)


IVOC supports training actions in the following two sectors in Belgium:

  • Ready-made clothing & upholstery
  • Textile care

The IVOC activities and services are funded by the companies within the sector. This contribution is automatically withheld from the salary mass.

IVOC is managed by the social partners.

  • The employers are represented by Creamoda (ready-made clothing companies) and the Belgian Federation for Textile care.
  • The employees are involved via the trade unions ABVV Textiel, Kleding en Diamant, ACLVB, ACV Metea, BBTK and LBC-NVK.

IVOC works together with companies to find the best approach for the organisation of both external and internal training courses (given by an employee of the company).

  • IVOC offers a wide range of training courses, including both technical and general topics (Dutch or French-spoken)
  • IVOC supports the realisation of training plans within companies
  • Employees who follow training courses or career guidance on their own initiative can recover these costs via a learning account, granted by IVOC.

IVOC also helps job-seekers and co-operates with numerous organisations that are active in professional training and education in the sector in Belgium and abroad.

IVOC is the Dutch acronym; IREC is its French equivalent.

www.ivoc.be (NL)
www.irec.be (FR)
www.modeonderwijs.be (NL)


Fundación Tripartita para la Formación en el Empleo-FTFE (Tripartite Foundation for Training in Employment) is a national body belonging to the Spanish public sector. It manages nationwide continuing vocational training (CVT) schemes in Spain on a social dialogue and tripartite (national employment agency, employers’ and trade unions’ organizations) basis.It is involved in promoting, disseminating and funding CVT programmes for employed workers and in associated research, especially sectoral and target groups’ training needs, learning tools and methodologies.

FTFE is a tripartite body whose governing board is composed of three parts: the government or administration through the National Employment Service/Ministry of Employment and the leading employers’ (CEOE and CEPYME) and trade unions’ (CCOO, UGT and CIG) organizations.

In this complex system of vocational training for employment one of the most relevant elements are the Joint Sectoral Committees. They represent both the employers and trade union organizations within each industry or branch and are created under the umbrella of collective bargaining. They add a lot of flexibility to the model and have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in companies, so that they can provide meaningful information. Their role is quite unfold, from deciding what training should be funded in supply training plans, to suggesting necessary studies, research and training tools for the sector.

TCL sector in Spain counts on 120,380 workers in total. The main activities in the sector are clothing and textile with 53,473 and 41,850 jobs. Footwear stands at a total of 21,356 workers and leather has 3,700. Three Joint Sectoral Committees are active within the TCL industries as a whole: 1) textile and clothing; 2) footwear; and 3) leather.

Website: www.fundaciontripartita.org (ES)


Opcalia is an OPCA (a joint body for collection of fundings for trainings). There are twenty of them in France. It is a joint body (managed by representatives from businesses and employees under the guardianship of the state) that undertakes to collect and handle the mandatory participation of companies for vocational training. Opcalia spreads out the companies’ investment: which allows financing a part or all of the training plans that are put into place by the companies, but also qualitative projects on employment, training and HR issues.

Opcalia has 95,000 affiliated companies that represent more than 3 million employees.

Opcalia is a multi-professional and multi-branch organisation that manages training funds of all types of companies. The company is divided in several dedicated departments and has a specific one for the Textile, Fashion, Leather companies. This particular department also includes L’Observatoire des métiers de la Mode, des Textiles et du Cuir (Observatory for Fashion, Textile and Leather-related jobs) – Opcalia TMC in short.

On behalf of the social partners of different branches (Footwear, Fashion design, Leather, Steam Pressing, Clothing, Textile) Opcalia TMC’s aim is to help firms of the sector to anticipate economic, social and demographic changes concerning employment and qualification, by fostering access to vocational training to employees, more specifically the most vulnerable: special funding, professional qualifications, innovative and specific devices (HR diagnostics, official training session with branch label, job studies, capitalisation operations and transfer of know-how…).

In 2012, Opcalia TMC:

  • trained 32,365 employees,
  • 2,365 work experience contracts were created,
  • more than 800 official training session with branch label were delivered.

Website: www.opcalia.com (FR)


National Tanning Observatory
ONC is a bipartite observatory on employment and training for the Italian tanning sector , composed by the leading italian employers association (UNIC) and Trade Unions, Its aim is to analyse and assess sectoral issues and propose initiatives in the following areas: Environment and safety, Education and training, Labour Market, Social responsibility for the sector.
Unic and Trade Unions (FILCTEM-CGIL, FEMCA-CISL, UILTEC-UIL) , that are parts of the OSSERVATORIO NAZIONALE CONCIA, at National Level underwrite the National Collective Labour contract in which is underlined the importance of Training as a strategic component for the development and competitiveness of the sector. UNIC, supported also by Trade Unions, has been active in developing the meeting between schools and businesses in order to provide graduates the skills needed by the productive world.

Unic promotes:

  • Orientation activities for young people to improve the attractiveness of the sector
  • Project initiative that aim to improve the attractiveness of the leather sector in young people
  • Communication activities , with the goal of promoting Italy’s world-leading tanning industry and of disseminating the leather culture and tradition.


As the observatory has been created on March 16th 2012, it does not possess a stable research structure.
Given the fact that the role of ONC is mainly advisory, in order to guarantee practical and useful information, it relies on the sources of information which are resident in its founding members.
The economic studies department of Unic elaborates Statistical information together with specific surveys and researches carried out periodically with samples of tanneries.

Website: www.unic.it (FR)


Creative Skillset is the UK’s Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council (SSC), the industries’ skills partnership for the Media Entertainment, Advertising, Publishing, and Fashion and Textiles Industries. We support skills and training for people and businesses to ensure the UK creative industries maintain their world class position. We do this by influencing and leading; developing skills, training and education policy; and through opening up the industries to the UK's pool of diverse talent. We conduct consultation work with industry, publish research and strategic documents, run funding schemes and project work, and provide information about the challenges that face the industry and what we need to do to overcome them.
We also provide impartial Creative Industries careers resources for those looking for a route in, as well as for established industry professionals online and over the phone. Whether you are a freelancer looking for training information, a student furthering your knowledge of industries or a public agency partner, we aim to provide you with easy access to the information you require.

Governance / Structure

The Creative Skillset Board of Directors is made up of leading industry figures who guide every aspect of Creative Skillset's work. The board is chaired by Stewart Till, Chair of Icon Entertainment UK and CEO of Sonar Entertainment. The Board is made up of representatives from all the sectors we represent across all UK nations including large and small employers, SMEs, trade associations and unions.
The structure of Creative Skillset also includes various layers of governance below the Board of Directors for each of the sub-sectors we represent. For Fashion and Textiles, this is the Fashion and Textiles Council which is convened by Creative Skillset to advise and guide on all aspects of skills development for the industry throughout the UK and made up of key industry employers and employer associations. Creative Skillset also has governance arrangements within the devolved administrations. These include the Scottish Textiles Strategy Group and the recently initiated Welsh Fashion and Textiles Forum.

Website: www.creativeskillset.org/fashion_and_textiles (EN)

© European Skills Council - Textile, Clothing, Leather & Footwear, 2014
  This website has been funded with support from the European Commission. It reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Newsletter Registration

If you were looking for our Newsletter archive, please click here.

Fill in the form and receive our Newsletter.

Personal Details — All fields are compulsory
Register now!