The role of the business sector in dual VET in JGT

Context for the role of the business sector in skills development in a just green transition

GESI in Dual VET in Development Cooperation, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in Dual VET: Getting Beyond Indicators

As visualised in the holistic approach to dual VET, the business sector plays a crucial role in the JGT. A cornerstone plays the concept of integral sustainability that is based on the three pillars such as social, ecologic and economic as well as integrating sustainability into the company strategy backed by robust metrics. The inclusion of sustainability standards in industry contributes to recognize a lack of skilled workers in companies as part of sustainability reporting; hence this could be considered as an opportunity towards increased commitment in companies and thereby contributing to the creation of new training places, fostering new green professions and a just transition.

The key take-aways from the DC dVET BarCamp on the holistic approach for dual VET in the JGT were:

The need for greening company production processes and establishing sustainability across all business functions has been known for the last 50 years. However, only in recent years, sustainability has come to the forefront also in the mindset of industry. This is also outlined by the strong focus on green education observed during the COP 28 in Dubai, where numerous side events emphasised the economic perspective of green skills and during which an action plan was published, which advocates for the inclusion of climate education and green skills in the climate agenda.

Various drivers are responsible for this development:

  • Consumers/voters have come to demand sustainable products. Hence, sustainability shapes market demand, which in turn influences companies.
  • OEMs in their position at the top of supply chains demand sustainable products and hence exert influence also on later stages of the supply chain.
  • Compliance requirements and the need for total transparency lead to authentic greening initiatives way beyond what used to be known as „greenwashing“.

In Mexico, AHK has successfully integrated the concept of integral sustainability in the training of VET instructors, both in companies and TVET institutions. This was achieved through developing a course and learning materials for in-company trainers and TVET institutional instructors. The core of their learning experience consisted in a project defined by the participants which had to combine all pillars of integral sustainability. This approach ensured that participants´ awareness and knowledge of integral sustainability increased considerably and translated into enhanced commitment and establishment of key indicators also of the social dimension of sustainability.

In addition, the BarCamp offered answers to the question why societal driven VET takes so long to manifest change. One explanation centers on the systemic nature of the required change, which can only be brought about in small, incremental steps. Moreover, systems are complex and show the tendency to maintain an established equilibrium and perpetuating the status quo. Social learning and stakeholder involvement are key to change, but any process needs to be pursued in the knowledge, that progress will be slow to come about and will only become manifest in the medium term.

The following learnings can be taken away from the several case study examples introduced in this BarCamp:

  • An integral understanding of sustainability encompasses three pillars: economic, social and ecological. Operating on this understanding ensures that these individual dimensions reinforce each other rather than representing a trade-off.
  • This integral understanding does not only apply to sectors like industry, agriculture or transportation, but basically to all sectors of the economy.
  • In order to translate sustainability into viable programs and link it to VET initiatives, robust metrics need to be established. Companies can benefit from relating the UN SDGs and their respective sub-goals to their company strategy and prioritising them accordingly.
  • In the context of development cooperation, meaningful VET programs should incorporate the integral view of sustainability. Development partners can provide helpful train-the-trainer courses and learning materials.
  • Even though company awareness of the need for integral sustainability and the importance of VET is rising, the business sector cannot act as the only training provider in VET. It is one important stakeholder in a partnership that also rests on government support, TVET institutions and business associations, among others.
  • Sound data and regular monitoring are required to identify the nature of future skills and to assess the potential of skilled workers required for moving the just green transition forward.
  • All greening VET initiatives benefit from learners coming to understand the relevance of integral sustainability through linking it to experiences in their own lives and to their individual living conditions.
  • Including sustainability standards in industry makes it possible to view the availability of skilled workers as a sustainability aspect and can therefore increase company commitment to provide training opportunities.
  • Integral sustainability and greening VET are helped by companies recognising the need for skilled workers as a mean to increase productivity and realise business growth.
  • Green skills need to be defined in the context of the relevant industry. The acquisition of green skills is helped by individuals realising their relevance and by establishing cascading training models that include VET instructors, managers, and workers on the shop floor.
  • The opportunity-driven approach to VET can translate into immediate benefits for both VET learners and companies as it starts from concrete employment/investment opportunities.