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A new approach to greening excellence in vocational education and training

The European Training Foundation, in partnership with the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), launched a new initiative to support excellence in greening international skills training Tuesday with the kick off meeting for GRETA – Greening Responses to Excellence Through Thematic Actions. 

The new initiative’s acronym is a tribute to Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg. 

Working through the ETF’s established ENE network – which connects Centres of Vocational Excellence (COVEs) throughout the EU, EU partner countries and further afield – GRETA aims to beef up the ability of vocational training institutions to contribute to combatting climate change and reaching international carbon net zero targets by 2030. 

GRETA brings together 17 COVEs from eight different countries, that include Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

Through establishing a “peer learning” community of participating COVEs international responses to greening curricula and skills training can be strengthened, project backers believe. 

The program will run through 2022 with a series of thematic online conferences following the establishment of matched “peer review” groups with the 17 participants – each of which will have defined their current positions and objective in five key areas. 

Those areas are:  

  • green strategies 
  • curriculum development 
  • teacher training 
  • collaboration with external stakeholders 
  • and funding sources for supporting the green transition.

Introducing GRETA, José Manuel Galvin, ENE Thematic Leader, ETF, said: “Today is a green day! ENE is a unique network of international practitioners in vocational excellence.

“We are in this big family to try to learn together – finding new practices around different thematic issues, of which going green is one.” (See footnote) 

He added: “We want to use the results and intelligence of this project to inform several actions alongside the European Commission, which has a focus now on green and digital skills in education. We shall do some studies in this area. This action will be crucial in this respect. 

“We are going to inform the international community of our practices via peer review. We are going to judge this process over the next few years.” 

Susanne M. Nielsen, lead expert GRETA, ETF, emphasised that GRETA was about “participation, practice share and peer learning.” 

She added: “It is important to share our practices – this is what GRETA is about – peer learning to excel together and improve in the greening process to introduce new green skills in vocational education and training.” 

With COVEs from such a wide range of EU and non-EU countries “we shall have a goldmine of different ways to introduce greening into the VET process,” she added. 

“Evidence shows that one of the biggest barriers in the green transition is a lack of technical skills and this is why VET providers have to be at the centre of the green transition and play a key role.” 

Green skills boiled down to the “ability to integrate environmental aspects into other skills that require sufficient knowledge about all environmental issues.” 

Working with the ETF and DTI over the next three months, the participating COVEs will be matched and jointly work out their strengths, challenges and needs before six online peer learning meetings scheduled for March-December 2022 – each with a thematic focus – will structure a defined programme for implementing the GRETA objectives. 

Presentations by the 17 participating COVEs at the launch meeting included examples of good practice in institutions such as Armenia’s Vayots Dzor Regional State College, which aims to set up a faculty of renewable energy, power plant installation repair and service; Ukraine’s Hlyboka Professional Lyceum, which has introduced four new environmental education courses in ecology, energy management, energy and materials savings, and ecologically rational operation of industrial equipment; and Turkey’s TINK Technology and Humanity Colleges, Istanbul, where all courses have been digitalised and lesson content greened with the 17 goals of sustainability defined by the UN’s Global Green Deal. 

ENE is a network of that as of October 2021 comprises 217 members from 289 countries (142 from ETF partner countries, 68 from EU member states and 7 from Africa.). It focuses on 8 thematic issues:  

  • Work-based learning (WBL) 

  • Entrepreneurial Centres of Vocational Excellence 

  • Pedagogy and professional development 

  • Smart specialisation 

  • Industry 4.0 and digitalisation.

  • Autonomy and public-private partnerships (PPPs) 

  • Going green 

  • Social inclusion and equity 

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