BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Europe's plastics processors plan to improve employment mobility for its workers across national borders in the 15-country European Union. The EU currently employs more than 936,500 workers at 27,440 plastics processing companies.
In a bid to harmonize the skills of industry employees to allow them to work freely across Europe, the Brussels-based processors' organization European Plastics Converters is preparing to create a regional skills certificate.
In addition, EuPC aims to boost the supply of university-trained technicians by establishing a training program for a European master's degree in polymers, polymers processing and product manufacture.
With financial help from the European Commission, the organization wants to extend an existing master's degree course already available at universities in France, Spain and Britain to students of more countries across Europe.
EuPC took the first step in its bid to obtain EU sponsorship for a wider master's degree program when it introduced the project to top EU officials during a training and education workshop at Plastics Forum 2000, May 18-19 in Brussels.
The workshop included a presentation on the existing master's degree program and the need for practical training, especially at small and medium-size processing companies.
The paper was presented by Javier Castany Valeri from the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, where the degree course began seven years ago.
The audience included top EU official Marie Donnelly, director general for employment and social affairs, who also was a speaker at the meeting.
The program's goal is to train young people who can communicate in several languages, allowing them mobility throughout Europe's plastics industry. EuPC hopes to have the full European degree course established by next year, according to Andre Collard, workshop chairman and retired Solvay SA executive.
Plastics master's degree courses currently are available at the University of Zaragoza; the Ecole des Mines de Douai and Universite de Pau, both in France; and at the University of North London, England.
At the forum, EuPC held the first of two seminars to establish the pan-European skills certificate for processor company workers. The meeting between the European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation, representing labor, and the EuPC, representing industry management, aimed to confirm the need for a certificate.
After comparing such certificates from other EU countries, the meeting verified that a European standard and certificate is required, Collard said in a telephone interview after the conference.
The next stage is to work out the details and timing, which EuPC will do this fall, he said.
Collard completed a 38-year career with Brussels-based Solvay last year when he was president and chief executive officer of the group's French pipe-making subsidiary, Pipelife France SA.