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Supply of sustainable education is growing

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In secondary vocational education (mbo) and higher education (hbo and wo) there is growing attention for the energy transition and the circular economy: there are more complete courses than a few years ago and the number of electives, minors and elective courses is growing rapidly. In this way the education system is responding to the growing needs of the labor market, where there is a great demand for people with knowledge and skills in the area of energy transition and the circular economy. In order to meet this strongly growing demand even better and with an eye to future developments, further flexibilization of education is needed. And if the education in the region further strengthens the cooperation with practice, supply and demand will find each other even better.

That's according to a recent education survey by The Green Brain and the cooperative Learning for Tomorrow commissioned by the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), the MBO Council and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The study shows that the supply of education has increased in the areas of energy transition, circular economy and sustainability. This has been made visible in two maps that show all the courses on these subjects (one for intermediate and one for higher education).

Broad demand for sustainable skills

The study, consisting of desk research, validation by educational institutions, interviews and a round table discussion, provides not only an overview of the supply, but also a first insight into the needs of the labor market. This results in concrete recommendations to strengthen the match between current education and the demand from the labor market in the areas of circular economy, energy transition and sustainability. The demand from the labor market is large and spread across many sectors. To shape the circular and energy transition, well-educated people are needed, not only in technology, but also, for example, in design and sales. In many sectors there is a demand for broad skills in sustainability, such as the use of systems thinking and an interdisciplinary approach. Specific needs of sectors, professions and regions can be further identified to match new supply.

Flexible education and lifelong development

From the labor market and from students and teachers, there is a need for modular, flexible educational programs to train or retrain enough employees. In this way, questions from companies can quickly be embedded in learning tasks for students. It also offers the opportunity to quickly develop sustainable skills among workers in various sectors. By making education more flexible and giving people the opportunity for lifelong development, we can continue to respond to changing challenges in the sustainable transitions.

Regional cooperation

In order to organize agility and identify gaps and shortages in the labor market in the field of the circular and energy transition at an early stage, regional cooperation appears to work well in practice. Good examples of collaboration can be found in living labs and learning communities, in which stakeholders from education, research and practice work together at the interface of learning, working and innovation.

The study therefore recommends investing in the formation of a platform in which cooperation between education and the professional field can take concrete shape at the regional level. Such a platform should be able to quickly and easily connect parties in the region from different educational levels and professions. The platform can build on existing initiatives and connect current projects. This will make it possible to work quickly and dynamically on lifelong development.

National Lifelong Learning (LLO) Catalyst

Parties from the education and labor markets are joining forces to advance training and retraining for the transitions. In the Climate Agreement in 2019, the education councils agreed to act jointly on these themes and are taking the recommendations into account in the development of a National LLO Catalyst. This initiative of business, civil society organizations, education and government will initiate and coordinate collaboration, create new solutions where gaps exist and provide resources where necessary to organize LLO more efficiently and effectively nationally and regionally. This exploration offers good examples and other concrete tools that education experts and the business community can work with.

 Source: Green Brain

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