Continuing ‘step-by-step’ are the efforts of CEC – the European Footwear Confederation – to support the sector, increasingly in a scope of innovation, ability to adapt, and global cooperation. In this context of intents and activities, in March 2022, CEC hosted the sixth edition of the International Footwear Forum (IFF), which since 2014 has been aimed at sustaining a regular and structured dialogue between delegates from worldwide footwear associations and chambers. It is accordingly possible for delegates from all over the world to openly discuss the experiences faced by their companies and their dialogue with their national administrations, as well as identify joint initiatives and promote international cooperation. This year the event – which was organised in collaboration with the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), was once more held in a digital format – with the participation of 25 countries, which exchanged views on the current state of global footwear trade and the global dangers to its growth. Secretary General Carmen Arias, on behalf of CEC President Luis Onofre, referred to the “rollercoaster” that the industry has been experiencing since 2020 due to both the Covid-19 waves and, more recently, the terrifying Russian invasion of Ukraine: a difficulty that is being overcome with a strong proof of resilience from footwear companies. Matt Priest, FDRA President & CEO and moderator of the Forum, echoed the CEC words by emphasising also the importance of maintaining a global network to regularly meet, discuss and build common pathways.

Always with the intent of concretely supporting the footwear industry, while bringing younger generations closer to this sector, which is ageing and which does not have an adequate generational changeover, CEC promoted the Erasmus+ SHOEGAME, “Developing Key Competencies in VET for the Footwear Industry through Serious Games” project. Developed in collaboration with some schools and experts in the sector, the project is based on the development and implementation of a serious game, with a fun and educational approach, that brings children and students closer to the occupations but also values of the footwear industry, while equipping them with a series of transversal skills, including especially environmental, digital and technological ones. The serious game will attract newcomers to vocational training courses and motivate the students who are already enrolled to continue with their studies, as well as contribute to the flexibility and quality of the vocational training, by preparing teachers to implement the methodology and tools developed into their teaching practices.