One of the objectives of the Skills4Smart TCLF industries 2030 project is to enhance the attractiveness of the sector to engage newcomers.

The TCLF industries are in desperate need for skilled workers and the textile sector is no exception.
In Belgium, employment in the textile industry has been stable in recent years and investments have increased. The sector can count on dedicated employees, but the downside is that the average age in the sector is high and there is and will be an unprecedented outflow of human capital in the coming years. On the other hand, there is little influx of pupils and students coming from education providers. Together, this results in almost every textile profession becoming a challenging profession.

In order to guide young students towards technical and scientific education, the first step is to introduce young people to the sector and show them how innovative, high-tech and omnipresent textiles can be. Therefore, Cobot has made the commitment to participate in the fairs Technoboost and Techniekfestival. Furthermore, two games were developed to introduce students and youngsters to textiles: Arachna Tex and Tex-Air.


Virtual Fair Technoboost

In this ever-changing world, technology has become an integral part of our daily and working life. The industries are increasingly relying on technological expertise from employees to develop products, handle machinery and do final inspections.
Opting for a technical or scientific education is therefore a wise career choice. Technoboost promotes this typ of education by informing young people and their parents about technical training and professions along with setting up actions to highlight the sector. This way Technoboost hopes to increase the qualitative influx of technical and scientific schooled workers in the companies.
Technoboost is a physical fair where students can participate in workshops. It is an initiative of the metal, electricity, chemistry, plastics, food and textile sectors together with VDAB and the Province, POM and RTC West Flanders. The focus is on students from the 5th grade in primary school (10-11 years old) and the 5th grade in Secondary school (16-17 years old) in West-Flanders.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the event took place virtually, and was organized from May 3th to May 7th, to present the participating companies and introduce innovative professions, additional training and employment opportunities. Cobot, the Skills4Smart TCLF project partner, promoted the sector with information and vacancies. In addition, young adults could receive VR glasses to watch the VR movie at home and they had access to the online escape game Arachna Tex. Visit Technoboost for more information, the short video promoting the results can be seen here: ESCAPE FROM YOUR SCHOOL! 3 – 7 mei 2021 – YouTube.

In the context of Technoboost, challenges were developed for students of the 5th grade of primary school (10-11 years old). Participating classes received a complete package with 6 challenges, one for each sector. Included were clear instruction sheets according to the lesson objectives, final objectives and the required materials. Various topics are discussed: electricity, mechanics, food industry, textiles, chemistry and plastics.
Cobot developed a challenge promoting the textile industry, where classes could either make a loom or a parachute.


Virtual Fair Techniekfestival

For Techniekfestival, various sectors are joining forces to promote technology and STEM education.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and is an important theme within the Flemish educational landscape. As stated before, there is an increasing demand for technical and scientific schooled workers. STEM education wants to stimulate the skills that are needed in future professions, for example problem-solving, planning and executing research, analysing and interpreting data, formulating explanations and solutions, etc.

The main theme is the field of mechanics-electricity and the festival focusses on students of the 5th grade of primary school (10-11 years old). This event had two objectives: to increase the influx in technical and vocational education and to enable cooperation between the 3rd stage of technical and vocational education and the labour market. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, this event could not continue as a physical fair and was organised online from May 20th until May 22th. More information regarding Techniekfestival can be found here: Techniekfestival – Ontmoet virtueel technisch en creatief talent.

After the fair, 25 schools (in total 40 classes) in East-Flanders were sent a DIY box containing all kinds of teaching materials that the teacher could use in the classroom to replace the workshops that could be attended at the fair.


Games Arachna Tex and Tex-Air

Throughout the years, Cobot has done many activities and projects to promote the textile sector. It has become clear that reaching young students before they make a final study choice is crucial. Exposing them as much as possible to the possibilities our industry has to offer is an effective way to guide them towards technical or scientific education and then, hopefully, towards employment in a textile company.
Therefore, Cobot developed a brand new game Arachna Tex, aiming at the 3rd grade of secondary school. Ideally, the game is played in groups of 3 or 4 students. Arachna Tex is an online escape game that will soon have a physical version. The goal is to steal the plans of a new type of fabric from a rival company. Unfortunately, you were caught and locked in the attic. In order to get access to the plans and escape, you come into contact with textiles and their different applications. To play the game yourself (only available in Dutch) go to Arachnatex Escaperoom.

In addition to Arachnatex, Cobot also worked on a physical game that focuses on the 5th grade of primary and the 1st grade of secondary school, Tex-Air. The aim of Tex-Air is to introduce students to the innovative nature of textile products and to give them insight into their social importance. It is a collaborative game in which the students discover through STEM methodologies that products from the textile industry are omnipresent and perhaps even, literally and figuratively, of vital importance. Cobot will unroll this game in classrooms in the coming years in order to get young people excited for the textile sector.


Author: Lynn Van Houcke (COBOT)