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"Beyond Formal Learning"

The Technological Institute for Footwear and Related Industries (Inescop) has taken part in the Leonardo Project "Beyond Formal Learning", with a view to bringing into play the know-how that has been acquired by professionals within the footwear industry and that is neither recognised nor accredited in an official manner.

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In Spain, more that 60 per cent of the working population do not have a recognised qualification within their profession, and the figure within the footwear industry is much higher. In this respect, Inescop has collaborated actively on this project, whose main objective is to validate non-official learning, which is to say, know-how that has been acquired through experience.

In short, the aim is to recognise the value of experience through a know-how evaluation and validation process. Following the path mapped-out in other European countries, headed by the French accreditation system, which has already been applied to France's manufacturing industries, Inescop has developed an evaluation methodology for skills acquired through experience with regard to trimming and pattern-making tasks that are carried out manually and through CAD technology.

Furthermore, a pilot methodology scheme has been applied at two footwear companies: for a worker who has recently been taken on and for a worker who has extensive experience using CAD systems for footwear. In both cases, the skills of these workers were assessed through a personal interview, a review of their CV's and observation of the procedures and results of their trimming and patterning tasks for footwear by means of CAD technology.

Financed by the European Commission, the Project is coordinated by the Calzaturiero Polytechnic of Padua (Italy) and also features the participation of Inescop, the French Government body, CAFOC-Académie Aix Marseille, the University of Transylvania in Romania and the Italian training body, IAL- Emilia Romagna.  Within a difficult economic climate such as that of today, the favourable balance of trade figures within the footwear sector provide unequivocal testimony to the strength of this industry in Spain.  However, we must analyse these figures more closely in order to realise that, although foreign sales have increased at a rate of more than 10 per cent in terms of volume, there has been virtually no change with regard to their value.

Over the first nine months of this year, Spain's footwear exports came to more than 108 million pairs, based on a value figure of more than 1,632 million euros. Thus, in comparison with the same period between January and September 2011, we can see that sales abroad increased by 10.63 per cent in terms of volume, but by only 0.08 per cent with regard to value. The average price of a pair of shoes exported in September came to 18.27 euros.

As far as imports are concerned, over the first three months of this year, Spain purchased a lower volume of footwear products from abroad, based on a value figure that was also lower. Spain purchased almost 263 million pairs of shoes from abroad over the first nine months of the year, based on a value figure of somewhat more than 1,613 million euros. In this respect, compared to the same period in 2011 Spain's exports have decreased by 13.18 per cent in

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