ETF GRETA network goes global

The ETF recently hosted the latest in a series of thematic online sessions organised by the global green vocational education and training (VET) partnership GRETA (Greening Responses to Excellence through Thematic Actions), which supports the greening of VET as a response to the green and digital transitions. The sessions aimed to present and share good practices, and attracted a lot of interest from around the world: the latest event was attended by 170 participants from 60 countries, including Pakistan, Vietnam and China. Key takeaways included an awareness of the dynamics of skills ecosystems as they relate to the green transition, insights into the practices of centres of vocational excellence (CoVEs), and an update on recent developments in the ETF's Network for Excellence (ENE) and its green sub-initiative GRETA

Global network 

Launched in 2020, ENE leverages strategic development partnerships to support CoVEs in achieving excellence in delivering relevant and high-quality skills. Currently boasting some 300 members from 40 countries across the world, the network is still growing. At the event, ENE Thematic Coordinator, José Manuel Galvin Arribas, highlighted the network's continuing commitment to playing a role as a truly global partner, working towards high-class VET systems and vocational excellence. Three years after instituting CoVEs as models of good practice, ENE is now also focusing on policy learning:

"We are providing policy advice to partner countries and conducting policy research, including into the green transition," said Galvin Arribas. 

Skills ecosystems 

As ENE's green arm, GRETA is an important part of that process. It supports green skills development by fostering capacity building and peer learning, with a special focus on the construction and renewable energy sectors in 2024. The initiative's Lead Expert, Susanne M. Nielsen, presented the online event's key theme by putting the focus firmly on skills ecosystems: collaborative networks of stakeholders, working together at local or regional level to enhance workforce development and skills. Today, those ecosystems are crucial to providing the evolving palette of skills required by workers and employers.

"Before, VET systems provided more or less the same skills, with demand being analysed by experts every few years," said Nielsen. "But today, skills are changing rapidly. Innovation calls for different specialisations, and there is an international dimension too. As a result, we need to include new stakeholders in the ecosystems." 

Adapting in real time 

Adrijana Hodak, Head of the Intercompany Training Centre at the Solski Centre – a CoVE in Nova Gorica, Slovenia – explained that those new stakeholders include individual researchers, 21st century experts, NGOs, start-ups and entrepreneurs, and research institutions. Today, CoVEs are facing two key challenges. One of them is the inertia resulting from too many green policies, with no clear priorities established between them. The other is the slow response times of skills ecosystems, and a lack of clarity in the division of roles within them. Adaptive skills ecosystems provide a solution.

"A skills ecosystem that is constantly adapting to the needs of the economy, society, and the environment is an important enabler," said Hodak. "It avoids employers and trainees having to wait too long for the right skills." 

Partnership for green construction 

In Georgia, the Construct2 Construction College provides an example of just that. Flanked by the Head of Lifelong Learning from Moldova's Centre for Vocational Excellence in Construction, Construct2's Director, Tamar Zakarashvili, described how the college was established as a public-private partnership between the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science and the country's biggest construction company BK Construction, in response to the company's difficulties in recruiting skilled workers. The partnership aims to address the skills gap in the construction industry, and also contributes to promoting sustainable construction practices. From 2020, BK Construction was among the first industry players to adopt green practices, making a complete shift towards using aerated concrete bricks.

"Construct2 plays a crucial role in shaping a workforce that is capable of driving sustainable and forward-thinking practices in the construction sector," said Zakarashvili. "The public sector knows all about transmitting skills, and the private sector supplies up-to-date feedback on what the industry needs. So our programmes are continuously being updated."  

New skills, new partners 

"Curricula will have to change fast," said Zoran Apostolovski, Head of Networking and Cooperation at the Regional Vocational and Education Training Centre 'Kiro Burnaz' Kumanovo in North Macedonia. "The green transition is underway, and it is a great opportunity for VET providers. It requires new skills, so we need to find ways to adjust and react quickly." 

For that reason, North Macedonia has established four regional green innovation committees. Following the EU's Smart Specialisation Strategy, each committee member represents the stakeholders of the priority industries defined for each region, and helps to define their skills needs.

"Involving different stakeholders is an important way of providing better insight," said Mila Velkovska, a project assistant and researcher at the National Centre for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning. 

Greening VET: a whole institutional approach  

Addressing colleagues who included Valentina Kuzma from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Velkovska underlined that adaptive skills ecosystems are not the only factor at work in delivering green skills. "The motivation of teachers and college principals is crucial," she said. And indeed, that is a key aspect of GRETA’s whole institutional approach to greening VET. This approach includes five interlinked elements: teachers' professional development, management and strategy, greening curricula and training, stakeholders and cooperation, and funding mechanisms.

Right now, GRETA is gearing up for a peer learning session ‘Building Green – together’ on 26 March about greening the construction sector which will include a inspiring presentations and cases from ETF partner CoVEs and international cooperation partners, and a joint conference with the Danube Region in Vienna in April – with a focus on CoVEs and greening the construction and renewable energy sectors. The conference will underline the power of policy learning, and provide a forum for sharing inspiring practices. Make sure to save the dates in your diary!

To find out more: ETF webpage Going green: GRETA, PowerPoint presentation GRETA – Empowering a just transition, and report GRETA – Greening of vocational education and training: Processes, practices and policies




Did you like this article? If you would like to be notified when new content like this is published, subscribe to receive our email alerts.