The German partners in the project provide insight into how work-based learning and the dual training system in German footwear companies work, and so do the partners from Spain, where a different dual VET system is in place. However, the objective is not to impose straight grafts: Each country will be able to adapt the dual training system to its own existing structures and requirements.
Beforehand, a curriculum for the pilot period will be developed and matched with alternating VET school phases. It is important to involve all potential partners beyond apprentices, companies and VET schools: Also the trade unions as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the political deciders need to stay closely involved and informed about each planned and executed project phase.
Before the pilot starts, the tutors need to be prepared for their new role. ICSAS will therefore create training material to prepare the tutors. It will be based on concrete workplace analyses which will set the framework of what needs to be communicated in work-based learning and what needs to be manually practised at each workplace. The material will be rounded off by didactic and pedagogical parts.
Even in Germany, where the dual training system in the footwear industry has been introduced decades ago, no publicly accessible sector-specific tutor training material exists. The fact that one of the ICSAS outputs will close this gap is worth of being regarded as an innovation.
With the increasing popularity of collaborative learning in the workplace, many companies are now looking toward methods that involve collaborating with experienced older employees and giving trainees more of a hands-on approach. Collaborative learning is extremely helpful because it uses past experiences from prior employees to help new trainees get over different challenges. In other words: work-based learning is a form of knowledge management within companies and should be imparted according to certain standards. The ICSAS project will contribute to this by accentuating the role of tutors. The positive impacts which the project consortium desires to achieve are manifold: to enhance training sustainability, the quality of the product as well as of the workforce, to promote personal development of individuals, to achieve improved recognition of VET qualifications in this sector in Europe and finally to strengthen the competitiveness of the European footwear industry as a whole.
Project will deliver additionally a Sector Qualification Framework (SQF) for industrial shoe-production, including the referencing of existing national qualifications from DE, PT, ES, and RO. The establishment of the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and of many National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) can be considered as a valuable step towards better transparency and recognition and as a blueprint for concrete applications for qualifications, sectors, and companies. Due to the (inherent) broad-and openness of EQF/NQF, adaption to a chosen sector increases user-friendliness; adapting descriptors to sector-specific skills offers innovative opportunities for individual certificate holders as well as for companies, searching for new employees.
Up till now, no such SQF for shoe sector exists, the expected impact is a better comparability of qualifications of participating countries and SQF possesses a very high transfer potential; once established, qualifications from other countries can be easily referenced.