The European Green Deal, launched in December 2019, aims for zero carbon emissions by 2050 whilst ensuring economic growth, respect for the earth’s resources, and the health and well-being of citizens. It also has the ambition to position the EU as a global leader in addressing climate change, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity by achieving net zero carbon by 2050, the first continent to do so.
The EU’s Green Deal is also a key component of the EU’s external assistance with neighbouring regions. In the EU’s 2021-2027 budget, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), with a budget of €79.5 billion and spending targets of 25% on climate change, 20% on human capital development and 10% on migration.
ETF support for the green transition
The ETF works with partner countries on sustainable development in the EU's neighbouring regions within the context of the EU's external assistance agenda which is now largely shaped by the European Green Deal global outreach. Recognising that skilling for the green transition is a dynamic and multistakeholder process, we produce research that targets different actors at policy, practitioner and research levels (training providers, practitioners, researchers, policy makers, officials, companies, social partners and civil society organisations) engaging them through our different networks. We also work in strategic partnership with other EU agencies, international organisations, bilateral cooperation agencies and development banks.
A recent meeting of the ETF Skills Lab Network of Experts focused on the role of education and employment policies for the green transition and the ETF's support which is outlined below. More information about the event can be found here.
Mapping and anticipating changing skills
In 2022, the ETF is mapping sustainability policies and initiatives in partner countries and the changing nature of skills and jobs in response to the green transition. Some jobs will disappear, and others will be created – not necessarily in the same sectors or the same geographical locations – but what matters most is that all jobs will be transformed.
We are seeking to understand how green skills are identified and defined within different labour markets in relation to each country’s stage of economic, technological and social change and supporting their integration in qualifications systems.
Specific technical and green skills for certain occupations will be required but not only. Every individual, at all ages and stages of life, will need green competences, including environmental awareness and a pro-environment attitude to be able to live and thrive in the green economy. This requires responsive and agile training systems led by quality skills anticipation mechanisms and including advanced career guidance services for learners of all ages.
As digitalisation now affects all aspects of life and technological innovation, digital literacy and skills are also critical to the green transition. Moreover, the ETF’s work demonstrates that the greening of jobs often requires higher technical knowledge and skills.
Monitoring education and training
Through its regular policy progress monitoring the ETF assesses how countries are adapting their education and training systems for the green transition, and responding to skills gaps and needs. The monitoring of system performance and adaptation through regular data collection enables the ETF to better tailor country activities and policy guidance, and input to EU programming. Moreover, in 2021 we undertook studies in eight countries on their green skills trajectory (Algeria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Morocco, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). This has helped us to develop an analytical framework which will feed into future editions of the Torino Process.
To support the green transition, citizens need lifelong and life-wide learning, which requires a system change tackling all aspects of learning and teaching practices, provision, the validation of skills that people develop throughout their lives, partnerships among different actors, and higher public and private sector investments in both formal and non-formal education.
Vocational education and training plays a major role in the availability of green competences ensuring young people and adults acquire both the technical/occupational skills and, more generally, the green competences to live and work in more resource efficient and less polluting societies. This is because VET is best-suited for technical upskilling which is a necessity for many green jobs. We support centres of vocational excellence (CoVES) to join the ETF Network for Excellence in the greening of their vocational and education training provision. In addition, the ETF’s recently launched GLAD network supports partnerships and enhances the contribution of multiple stakeholders to the governance of vocational education and training, skills development and lifelong learning.
Supporting enterprise skills development
In ETF partner countries, many companies, particularly SMEs which make up the bulk of the private sector, struggle to fully benefit from the green transition. We are working in partnership with other organisations, namely the EBRD and UNIDO, to support relevant enterprise skills development by fostering the mobilisation of intermediaries (e.g. sector skills councils, business associations, industry associations, chambers) as well as business networks at national and international level.
To ensure green skills are a driver for change rather than an impediment, countries need to align their skills development systems to their sectoral green transition strategies and policies as well as to their smart specialisation strategies. The ETF undertakes sectoral studies to understand better how global trends, including climate change, are impacting developing and transition economies and what actions are needed. For instance, studies on agri-tech, agri-food, automotive, and energy sectors in Israel, Morocco, Turkey and Albania respectively, using the ETF’s innovative methodology, explored the technological changes and innovations and the implication for skills. The ETF’s methodological tool can be applied in other countries and sectors either in traditional, low-tech sectors or modern, high-tech sectors.
Interface with other policy areas
The green transition is a cross-cutting policy issue that needs to properly interface with other policy areas such as youth, migration and gender equality. In the case of gender, for example, stereotypes and norms influence women’s educational and vocational choices which lead to their underrepresentation in employment growth sectors and in green jobs. Gender sensitive skills development and employment policies for greening are needed as part of more inclusive policies overall. More information is available here.