Climate change is affecting the entire planet with clear risks of irrecoverable damages for environment and human life. There is an increased awareness that this phenomenon is a global one, requiring flagship initiates and a common intervention framework.
The 2019 events, namely the protests of the young population across Europe, environmental changes and cataclysms at the beginning of 2020 forced us to rethink the way we currently consume and produce, based on the old-fashioned economical approach “take, make and dispose of” and linear economy paradigm. In 2015 the European Commission adopted a specific Action Plan for speeding up the European transition forwarding the circular economy, boosting global competitiveness, promoting sustainable economic growth and generating new jobs. The Commission is following up on its Green Employment Initiative with actions to anticipate needs and encourage the development of skills and other measures to support job creation in the green economy. It is also acting through its “New Skills Agenda for Europe 2020-2025.” In short, sustainability is becoming a crucial cross-cutting issue for facing the urgent challenges of climate change as well as for transition to a real and full green economy.
OECD Work on SMEs, entrepreneurship, and innovation and other recent studies (https://www.nber.org/papers/w27321), have shown that there will be a need for new types of skills to match new types of jobs, as an industry is transformed into a low-carbon economy. “Green jobs” are expected to grow more than 80% of jobs by 2030 both at medium and high levels. Finally, the EU Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, as well as the 17 Goals of the Sustainable Agenda, ask for a holistic approach to sustainability and green innovation, foreseeing these issues as guiding principles for the Education systems. Green skills include specific skills to modify products, services, or operations due to climate change adjustments, requirements or regulations.
On the other hand, even if the catchword ‘green skills’ has been common parlance in policy circles for a while, yet there is little systematic empirical research to guide public intervention for meeting the demand for skills that will be needed to operate and develop green technology.
Moreover, recent empirical studies also suggest it is not just a compositional change in skill demand due to job losses in sectors highly exposed to trade and regulation, but a substantial change in skills domain.
At partner countries level, the common emerging needs that the project assumes as baseline are related to the increasing request both of green skilled workforce and entrepreneurs with a “green mindset”.
These are the assumptions inspiring the improvement of the Smart Specialization Strategy that in all the involved countries identifies similar priorities for related to climate change management, transition to a bio-based, low -impact economy, sustainable production in the different sectors. Considering this context, the project aims at establishing an European VET Academy on Circular Economy, based on a transnational cooperation of a very experienced and complementary partnership, (including associated partners), joining Research centres, Vet centres, University, SMEs, clusters, Umbrella organizations and international networks, public administrations, that will work together as an ecosystem to increase capacity building and responsiveness of the VET systems, according to an “European Training Area”.