Training of sustainability managers

Where can the companies find the sustainability professional skills?

Sustainability managers and experts are among the most sought-after professional profiles in the fashion supply chain. Large, medium and small businesses still lack staff capable of operating on the range of skills required by these professional profiles and have to make up for the lack with expensive internal training processes or outsourcing critical roles to external consultants.

But where to find the skills? It is not an easy search. They are in fact new skills compared to those traditionally available in fashion companies or educated in schools and universities.

The fashion education system is divided into professional training, universities, often framed in design faculties, university-level fashion schools, and the ITS Academy, the latter is a university-level educational channel with a greater emphasis on practical aspects, whose importance in the Italian education system has been significantly strengthened in 2022 with the reform implemented by the Draghi government.

It is estimated that the total value of the Italian fashion education market approaches € 200 million and accounts for about 10% of the global value of the specialist fashion training business of approximately € 2 billion.

The diffusion of programs and courses dedicated to sustainability has been slow in the Italian fashion education system, while Anglo-Saxon universities such as the London College of Fashion, in which the Center for Sustainable Fashion has been active for over 10 years, have been much faster. It can be said that the issue of sustainability began to spread in the Italian fashion education system only at the turn of the years of the COVID19 pandemic. The formulas of the dedicated training initiatives are: annual masters, Advanced Training Courses and ITS Academy courses. Among the first we can mention the masters in Fashion Sustainability from the Academy of Costume and Fashion, in Product sustainability management from the Milano Fashion Institute, from 2022 in Sustainable Fashion Design from the IED, and in Circular Fashion Management from SDA Bocconi. Higher Education Courses include the specialization in Sustainable Fashion Design of UNIDEE / Michelangelo Pistoletto Foundation and the course in Management of the Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain of the University of Florence (University Pole City of Prato).

The latest developments in the ITS Academy, two-year courses with 2000 hours of training of which 800 in internships in companies, are very interesting.

In 2021 the first ITS Academy in Italy for Sustainability Managers in Fashion started in Valdagno within the premises of Marzotto Group and with the support of other Veneto fashion companies such as Bottega Veneta (Kering Group), OTB Group, Xacus, Lanificio Bottoli, Maglificio Miles. The focus of the Academy is the training of managers who know how to manage the complex network of relationships within a company and the supply chain by promoting sustainable strategies and practices.

This was followed at the beginning of 2022 by a second ITS Academy for Technology Sustainability Manager in Busto Arsizio, more oriented to specific technical aspects such as chemical management systems, auditing of sustainable management systems and certifications, including whose promoters are Centrocot, the Union of Industrialists of the province of Varese and Sistema Moda Italia.