Education and Training has been recognized as one of the key drivers within the EU2020 Strategy to overcome the socio-economic crisis affecting EU countries, to boost growth and jobs and to foster equity and inclusion. Moreover, there is a need to provide organizations and youth workers with training and cooperation opportunities, to develop their professional skills and the EU dimension of youth work.

      One quarter of the world´s furniture and sleep components are produced in the EU. In 2012, more than 900.000 European workers were employed at approximately 126.000 firms. In the same year, the sector´s production amounted to more than €84 Billion with an added value of nearly €30 Billion. However, these production figures are 13% lower than in 2007, while the Asian market has increased its production 230% during the same period. The main factors affecting competitiveness in the upstream portion of the value chain include raw materials availability, investment in machinery and equipment and skilled labour. Regarding this last factor, workers’ qualifications remain one of the crucial points in the furniture and sleep industries. Boosting competences and skills requires initiatives addressing training workers to keep them updated and to enable them to acquire new competences in line with newly developed technologies and develop new initiatives to promote the anticipation of future skills needs for these sectors and foster collaboration among industry, social partners and education.

      ERGOSIGN was developed to enhance opportunities for cooperation between VET and economic actors, providing cooperation initiatives among stakeholders and the transfer of knowledge in these sectors. Besides the specific and horizontal priorities described in section C. ERGOSIGN is directly aligned to the EC´s objectives in terms of VET (based on the Copenhagen process): to improve the quality of training and VET professionals, and make training programmes more relevant to the labour market.

      The EU furniture and sleep sectors are key drivers of sustainable growth with a significant contribution to economic health, competitiveness, creativity, innovation, employment and export. This Partnership proposes the creation of a flexible learning pathway in line with the needs of learners and companies in the furniture, sleep and related sectors, a training program between VET, HE and economic actors that will improve enterprise’s innovation, expertise and added value.

      ERGOSIGN aims to create online training materials on ergonomics applied to the upholstery and sleep industry developed by VET providers, who run their own specialized training according to the needs of these sectors, and Universities, which respective departments are EU experts the field of ergonomics. From this main objective, several specific objectives are defined:

  • To identify and understand skills gaps and needs of EU designers in developing functional furniture and sleeping products that ergonomically comply with their specific use (work, home, rest).

  • To define joint curricula that will define and analyse the most suitable training paths addressing the skills gaps and needs identified.

  • To develop learning, teaching and training materials according to the joint curricula, focused on basic principles on ergonomics and specific ergonomic considerations and materials that contribute to the ergonomics of the final product (flexible polyurethane foams, TPU gels, fabrics, etc).

  • To enhance the integration of Virtual Reality in learning, teaching and training and support learners and educational staff inimproving the use of ICT and digital competences.

  • To promote open access to teaching and learning content addressing traditional sectors in line with individual’s needs and expectations, reducing skills mismatches.

  • Capacity Building in these Sectors: Establishing a stable and active Strategic Partnership that will promote active cooperation among enterprises, professional organisations and local/Regional Bodies in order to support high quality VET with a strong work based learning component.

      Innovation activities, including those related to education and training, tend to be geographically concentrated in individual entities where knowledge has been transferred among different industrial, educational and training sectors, taking special account the heavy influence of regional culture. Innovation in education and training is rarely achieved in isolation, as competences and experiences are spread across from different entities of education and training, outside academia and geographical borders. To overcome these challenges ERGOSIGN will be carried out by actors across different sectors and countries.