The GAP between schooling institutes and the industry still exists.

Skills and employability are still the cornerstones of our common European economic and social environment. New students are the future of businesses. But the question remains: do the educational programmes/skills fit the industry’s needs and do schooling institutes have a clear view of the needs of the industry? According to the latest research in the graphic media sector- initiated by the social partners Intergraf (the European employers’ organization), Uni Europe Graphical (European trade unions) and in cooperation with EGIN - the answer sadly is: “no”. There is still is a gap between the schools and the industry in their perception of the graphic media sector.

This research project was executed in the context of the so called European Social Dialogue, an initiative of the European Commission. The Leonardo Sustainability and Green Marketing project is a good example how to bridge the gap between schooling institutes and the industry effectively.

Everybody in the sector is clear about the ever changing future of the graphic arts sector. Traditional printing houses are increasingly transforming into multimedia companies. The sector is being defined as “the new media and digital industry”, or the “creative sector of Europe”. In this new reality it can be seen that there are companies that prefer to do business the ‘old’ way as a graphic arts company and that there are companies who want to be fully ‘digital’. This resulted in some interesting findings/observations in the starting point of the identification of (future) skills of students. The employers where leading in the way of the traditional industry and the VET schools in the new media.

It appeared that the present ‘old fashioned’ employees who want to transform themselves into new-media specialist have a time problem, due to the fact that the present courses are up to three years, something an employee cannot manage in his or her life. They also have a family role in real life. And following a course for many years presents a serious planning problem for them. This we can define as the first gap.

Another problem arises from the fact that the present techniques are so rapidly changing that even the Higher VET institutes cannot keep up. They need up to 12 months to alter their course to adequately integrate the new techniques. This creates the second gap. And then we have another kind of gap: the manner in which universities and Higher VET institutes conduct their research is far more abstract then employers or employees can absorb.  

So this leaves us with a serious gap. How are we going to solve this? One should increasingly think in “case studies” and “best practices”. This formula has already been applied successfully in European programmes like LIFE+ or Leonardo. Especially when the Higher VET schools combine their strengths with business consultancies. The latest Leonardo programme “Sustainability, green marketing and media in the creative industry” is a good example of the teaming-up of these two types of knowledge institutes. On one side one can define the schooling institutes as Stivako Amsterdam and the University of Lyon and on the other hand the consultancy centres Dienstencentrum (The Netherlands), AIDO (Spain) and Innowise (Germany). This consortium managed to create not only dedicated lesson materials (including a real physical green game) for VET schools and universities but also a serious game on the internet. This multichannel approach will reach both modern young students and employees due to the fact that this course can easily be attended for five evenings to appreciate the essence of sustainability.

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