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Sustainability and social inclusion

The UN Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted in September 2015, confirms the role of economic growth and inclusion strategies in fighting poverty, tackling climate change, and encouraging environmental protection. It brings together a range of social policy areas including education, health, social protection, and job creation and employment, and includes two specific goals which represent priorities for our work. Goal 4 calls for inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning, while Goal 8 advocates inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

All countries participate in efforts to maintain sustainable development in the widest sense, which includes making sustainability part of education and training curricula. At the same time, policy makers seek to ensure that education and training reforms are sustainable over the long term. Meanwhile, poverty, economic vulnerability, and the marginalization of certain groups are major issues in several partner countries where multiple simultaneous transitions have eroded social capital and social welfare systems, and increased poverty and social exclusion.

Our work has largely been aimed at increasing participation and encouraging equitable access to quality education and training and decent work, while highlighting the potential of education and training as a means of mitigating poverty and social exclusion. As active participants in the Inter-Agency Group on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, we share information and develop methodologies and tools across a range of policy areas, including initiatives to improve the contribution of human capital development to sustainable social and economic development.

Our current efforts focus on capacity building of stakeholders in key partner countries, supported by a facilitated regional policy network of national stakeholders, representatives of international organisations, and representatives of the European Commission. The aim is to establish policies and practices that enhance the role of vocational education and training in sustainability and social inclusion, emphasising its civic, social, and equity dimensions. In doing so, we will improve understanding of how vocational education and training promotes employment, social cohesion, and active citizenship.