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Driving green skills for the future through education

Driving green skills for the future through education

Before we began to experience the challenges faced with the pandemic, people across the globe were taking to the streets to protest about the climate and ecological crisis and the necessity for education to focus more on addressing these factors and discussing the possible solutions.

Memories of Greta Thunberg dominating the headlines and Extinction Rebellion performing large climate protests in the streets of London seem to have dwindled and been replaced predominantly by the implications and response to Covid-19. The pandemic transformed everything and diverted a lot of attention from many global challenges, including the environmental and climate issue faced worldwide. Instead of continued climate action, naturally, we have focused our attention on the health implications of the pandemic and economical recovery plans. Yet, the climate crisis has not gone away, and many people are still urging leaders and businesses that the climate and environmental issues we face need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. 

The student-driven movement ‘Teach the Future’ is a good example of an active campaign that suggests the younger generation isn’t being adequately prepared to face the real impacts of climate change, or being taught what solutions there are to the challenges we face. The group focuses on delivering a more structured and supportive experience for the students of the future, in a sustainable and impactful way.

Many industry experts are questioning what educators need to do to support students in facing the future in a meaningful way. This is a challenging question as no one knows exactly what the effects and extent of the impact climate change will have on the younger generation. While the future is somewhat unclear, working towards providing an education that meets the needs of our students for them to be capable of facing the future should be considered a top priority for all educational leaders.

The latest government white paper on the future of further education “Skills for Jobs” includes information concerning the commitment to net zero, and positively places a lot of importance on preparing the younger generation for the green economy but lacks significant detail of the climate and ecological crisis we face, and how this will shape and impact our futures. 

While the paper was more of an overview of general industry job skills, the reality is many jobs and industries created in the future will significantly shape and be shaped by the ecological and climate changes we are directly responsible for. We are in a time when biodiversity loss has increased considerably and is on track to continue rising if action is not taken. The scale of changes required in industry and society are significant and require rapid transformation across all industries to create something more resilient and sustainable. 

Education has the power to incorporate the necessary vocational learning experiences and simultaneously develop the skills and opportunities which address and support climate, environmental and ecological issues. Combining employability skills with these fields of learning empowers people to utilise their skills within important industries and encourage more people to be part of the future and deliver solutions to the climate crisis we face.

Climate and environmental education can support job creation, build a green consumer market and enable people to engage more effectively with businesses and leaders about climate change. The movement towards a carbon-neutral economy requires new skills, training and qualification and as a result, many new jobs will emerge and people will need to adapt. This means a climate education for the future workforce should be considered a top priority for all nations across the globe.

Senior leaders suggest that we need to start preparing the youth of this changing world and show how climate and environmental education can empower people to deliver solutions to the climate crisis and create the skills and leadership required to lead us towards a more sustainable future.

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