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Centres of vocational excellence: Driving the transition to a net-zero world

The ETF showcases excellence in green skills at #EUGreenWeek

Centres of vocational excellence (CoVEs) are taking the lead in delivering a net-zero world through their specialised training and collaborative approach with industry. These centres, recognised by the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) and the European Training Foundation (ETF) are at the forefront of providing high-quality vocational education and training that meets the needs of individuals, industry, and society.

CoVEs stand out for several reasons. Firstly, they specialise in key areas of  green technologies and digital skills allowing them to develop expertise and deliver top quality vocational training. Secondly, CoVEs collaborate closely with industry and businesses, research institutions, other training providers, and stakeholders to create innovative training programmes for both initial training as well as the upskilling and reskilling of adults. Finally, these centres  tend to have a global outlook, seeking partnerships and collaboration with other CoVEs worldwide to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in their field.

The ETF's commitment to excellence is evident through the establishment of the ETF Network for Excellence (ENE) in 2020, which supports CoVEs in delivering high-quality training through strategic partnerships. With nearly 300 members from over 40 countries, ENE continues to grow and promote knowledge sharing and good practices. ENE's green initiative, known as GRETA (Greening Responses to Excellence through Thematic Actions) and led by ETF green skills expert Susanne M. Nielsen, focuses in particular on the greening of vocational education and training and involves CoVEs from Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Türkiye and Ukraine.

At the recent EU Green Week organised by the European Commission in Brussels, the ETF showcased green skills excellence from CoVEs across Europe and EU neighbouring countries. These examples highlighted the progress being made in developing renewable energy faculties, offering specialised vocational programmes, and integrating environmental knowledge into the curriculum. Underscoring the increasing significance of investing in upskilling in this field, at the conference opening, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen explained:

'We are modernising our industry with the net-zero act, thus we are creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs all over Europe... This is the European Green Deal in action.’

To ensure a sustainable future, the ETF has identified key policy recommendations based on peer reviews and expert insights. These recommendations include aligning green skills strategies with national and regional green transition plans, fostering collaboration between stakeholders, building robust mechanisms for social dialogue, supporting lifelong learning, incorporating green skills into vocational education and training programmes, greening teacher training, and integrating sustainability principles into vocational training management and operations.

By following these recommendations, governments and education institutions can create a unified approach to the challenges and opportunities of the development of green skills. Through collaboration and investment in lifelong learning, individuals can be equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in the green economy.

'Centres of vocational excellence play a crucial role in driving skills for the green transition and shaping a net-zero world. Their commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaboration is essential in providing high-quality training that meets the demands of the green economy,' Nielsen states. 'CoVEs worldwide have a shared sense of urgency in responding to the green and digital transition and an interest in learning from sustainable practices.'

Together, CoVEs are leading the way towards a sustainable and net-zero future for all.

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