The initial idea for this proposal came from the Lead Partner, the Hellenic Fashion Industry Association (SEPEE). SEPEE has co-operated in the past with ENDYSI Vocational Center (KEK ENDYSI) regarding the enhancement of human capital skills and qualities and GNOSI NGO regarding the support of businesses. Also, SEPEE and KEK ENDYSI have co-operated with the Business Incubator-Gotse Delchev, Entrepreneurship Promotion Centre, the Business Center of Mesta and the American University in Bulgaria in the past in the implementation of cross-border area projects. With the aforementioned successful collaborations as a basis, the partners wish to expand their activities and analyze and record the human capital’s skills and qualities in the cross-border area, the needs of businesses in human resources, the development of a skills certification system and the support of employees and employers in the cross-border region regarding issues of human capital mobility in the cross-border area.

To expand the geographical range of the project, the Chamber of Drama, which has successfully cooperated with almost all of the other partners in the past, suggested the Association of Young Entrepreneurs and Scientists of Drama as a business organization with important experience in cross-border projects, which represents a significant number of young scientists and professionals in the wider area of Drama.

The possibilities of qualifications and skills development, as well as the mobility of the human capital are the main subjects of the project. Thus, the geographical range of the project area intends to facilitate the mobility of personnel in the textile, apparel, leather, fashion and accessories industries. The cooperation of all partners aims at the creation of a network of Helpdesks to support businesses and employees of the cross-border area in finding the appropriate staff or the appropriate job position, accordingly.

The Greek and Bulgarian economies operate in a common political and economic framework (EU 27). It is common knowledge that “light industry” is developed in the cross- border region, including the industries of textile, apparel, leather, fashion and accessories. These sectors have substantially developed in the region, making use of their competitive advantages; Greece remains the administrative design, marketing and promotion center, whereas Bulgaria is the productive center. This development resulted that the cross - border region has become a financial and production center in the fashion sector with supplementary productive activities between the two countries. To remain competitive this cross-border center should be upgraded the skills and the qualifications of the medium and upper level executives as well as outsourced services in order to meet the needs of fashion industries. During the last years, in Greek-Bulgarian cross-border area, a significant number of fashion enterprises uses frontier workers, meaning employees in a Member State but resides in another, where he/she returns at least once a week.

Besides, the free movement of workers is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the European Union. Free movement is a means of establishing a more flexible and more efficient labour market, as labour mobility allows individuals to improve their job prospects and allows employers to recruit the people they need. It is an important element in achieving efficient labour markets and a high level of employment.

For this aim, it is foreseen by the project to develop tools that match employment supply and demand and facilitate labor force mobilization. In addition, the project includes pilot advisory actions and e-learning practices for the existent labor force in the sector. In this way, a model sectoral approach in Open Labor Market is achieved. By retaining skilled workers in the peripheral productive system of Greece - Bulgaria, better quality to price ratio can be actualized, resulting in the longevity of the sector in the region.

Through the proposed project, the skills and qualities of the sector’s human resources along with all job profiles concerning the sector will be recorded. By using the aforementioned information, the skills, capacities and qualifications that the employees should have to work in the sector and the preparation of a skills certification system will be made. The aim is to record the precise skills and qualities needed in the sector.

Also, a network of help desks will be developed. Its mission will be to provide all necessary information to everyone interested (employees and employers) concerning the skills and qualifications of human capital in the sector. Also, a matchmaking tool will be developed. This network will have a complete services programme along with a guide and the electronic matchmaking tool. The matchmaking tool will also be connected to all revlevant databases of the EU (EURES, EUROPASS etc.)

The pilot application of the project will be for the support of enterprises in the cross-border area that want more specialized personnel, as well as for individuals that have the proper skills and look for a job in the cross-border area. Also, educational material and an e-learning platform will be made, in order to prepare specialized educators that will teach in seminars for professionals of the sector.

Finally, career days, a partenariat, followed by an e-partenariat, will be organized in which professionals and institutions form the cross-border area and the EU will participate for the exchange of know-how and to keep up with all latest developments for human resources issues in the sector and to promote business cooperation and attract 3rd countries’ stakeholders.

The general objective of the project is the development of a system for improving and certifying the human resources’ quality and facilitating labor force mobilization in the cross-border region through pilot advisory actions and e-learning practices.
The sub-objectives of the project are the following:

  • The establishment of a Greek-Bulgarian cross-border partnership that will:
    - assess and transfer knowledge regarding common methodologies and best practices implemented in the EU regarding human resources specialization and workers mobilization focused on cases of cross-border or interregional collaboration,
    - identify needs and certify qualities in the specific target groups (mid-level and upper level executives, experts and legal outsourcing entities in fashion sectors)
    - develop relevant support tools and structures offering mentoring, advising and professional orientation services.

  • The establishment of an electronic database/portal/matchmaking tool/info center that can be used as a labor demand and supply matching tool which will be linked with ACTE, EURES, EUROPASS etc.

  • The establishment of a network of Helpdesks regarding human resources issues

  • The pilot application of innovative actions and practices for skills enhancement, which will be addressed to businesses and employees of the sector in the area.

  • The increase of professional opportunities for the human capital that will make use of the advisory actions.

  • The organization of 2 seminars for adult educators for the identification of needs in skills and qualities and the skills certification system

  • The facilitation of the sectoral human capital for movement in individual job markets in the cross-border region through the proposed matchmaking procedures (i.e. Career Days, e-partenariat).

  • The promotion of business cross-border cooperation through attracting 3rd countries’ stakeholders (labor force and enterprises)

 

The project is structured in 6 WPs including 24 actions and produces 26 deliverables representing the substantial outputs. From these outputs, 6 result from reporting procedures of the management and coordination activities (WP1), while the rest of them derive from the core activities of the project. WP2 outputs include the production of a communication plan, the communication material and the promotional activities. Also, 4 targeted workshops in Greece and Bulgaria and 1 International event in Greece will be organized and the outcomes will be presented in reports. Outputs from WP3 refer to the following studies: 1st - a situation analysis study for human resources in fashion sectors and the typology of business patterns. 2nd - a study for the matching of human resources needs of the fashion industries with the job profiles and a SWOT analysis of the structure of the vocational educational training in the project area, 3rd - a study for the establishment of a skills certification system for the sector, 4th - categorization of the specialization in fashion industries and an analysis of the businesses competences and obstacles to employee mobility.

Outputs from WP4 concern supportive tools and structures: HR help desks will be established to the participating partners. A relevant Services Programme will be elaborated, as well as a Guide for the use of the Helpdesks from anyone interested (social partners, stakeholders etc.). Also, a portal with an electronic database providing labor matchmaking and information for researchers, advisory organizations, policy institutions and policy makers at local, regional, national and European level will be developed. Outputs from WP5 include reports for the pilot advisory actions, educational material, an e-learning tool and reports from the 2 e-learning seminars. Finally, WP6 include brief reports regarding the 4 career days, an evaluation report of the partenariat and of the e-partenariat that will be organized.

The implementation of the proposed project and actions will expected to have significant results.
The project includes interventions for the sector’s human resources and the establishment of a model sectoral approach in Open Labor Market, in order to retain skilled workers in the peripheral productive system of Greece - Bulgaria, (mid-level and upper level executives, experts and frontier workers), resulting in the longevity of the sector in the cross-border area. This model will be based on the creation of tools, structures and procedures that will constitute a complete system of human resources management, aiming at enhancing horizontal skills, facilitating career development and labor mobility.

The main innovation of the proposed project is the development of HR Help Desks and their antennas offered services may include mentoring, advising and professional orientation. Enterprises, mid-level executives, experts and frontier workers will be direct beneficiaries of these services. Also, the development of an electronic database/portal that will serve not only as a labor matchmaking tool but as an info centre as well, as it will be linked with involved partners and ACTE, EURES, EUROPASS etc is expected to promote better information and bring together decision makers and business actors in fashion sectors of the cross-border area.