Green TVET

Sustainable development should be in focus of future-oriented, modern TVET.

Sustainable Development (SD) is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. Thus SD is an essential issue for a forward-looking Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and green skills are an integral part of vocational competence. The guiding principle of sustainable development stands for a transformation towards an ecological compatible and socially fair development of all societies all over the world, and TVET has to contribute to this transformation.

Sustainable development does not emerge by itself.
Source: SRU 2012, S. 378

Sustainable development requires a great deal of effort, because it does not emerge by itself. On the contrary: Currently, all relevant trends indicate a non-sustainable development with ecological and social results already predictable. Overcoming poverty is still an unsolved issue in many parts of the planet, and already for years the use of natural resources exceeds the regeneration capacity of our planet significantly. A sustainable development will only succeed, if the absolute consumption of material will be reduced drastically (in industrial countries a factor 10 is assumed); relative improvements of efficiency are not sufficient, because of the dramatic growth of world population. "An overloaded ship cannot be saved from sinking be just moving the load but by reducing the load to a compatible level. The solution is not only an efficient use and distribution of natural resources. Above all the consumption of natural resources have to be limited absolutely“ (German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU); 2012: Responsibility in a limited world. Environmental report 2012. Berlin, 38f).

Sustainable development affects all.

Thus, sustainable development is not an issue as any other. Sustainable development challenges us to reflect existing concepts and mindsets if they are future-proof for everybody in a globalized world. Sustainability requires new perspectives in all areas of life. Thus, green skills play an increasingly important role in working life. They are not only relevant for specialists. Green skills demands can be found in every branch and in every occupation – though in different extents. All working must be prepared to meet these requirements.

For TVET sustainable development is a big challenge.

In the discussion on implementing the guiding principle of sustainable development as well as in the context of the green economy TVET is assigned to play a key role. A green economy as well as greening economy needs well-trained skilled workers who are capable to appropriately apply green skills in their scope for action and decision-making. Also, TVET itself is challenged to re-orient itself, because TVET, committed to social responsibility and promoting vocational shaping skill, can become a key for transforming economy and society towards sustainability. In contrast, TVET will stay part of the problem and not of the solution, if it uncritically follows the requirements of a conventional brown economy.

Different requirements occur on different system levels.

The strategic integration of green skills requirements in TVET contains different questions on different system levels:

  • Macro level: How can the discourse on TVET towards sustainable development become a core topic in TVET? How can green skills requirements (occupation-specific or cross-occupational) be identified, operationalized and appropriately embedded in the TVET system?
  • Meso level: Which requirements have to be met in TVET institutions? How can sustainability requirements be systematically integrated in organizational development of vocational schools and colleges as well as in-company, external and inter-company training centres?
  • Micro level: How can green skills be trained adequately in vocational teaching and learning processes? Which teaching / learning arrangements, which methods and media are suitable or have to be developed? How can teachers and instructors as well as examiners be sensitized and trained for this new area of responsibility?

Essential are system and shaping skill as well as willingness to take on producer responsibility.

For sustainable action is an issue in every occupation and in every economic sector green skills become an integral part of vocational competence.
While in the context of general education in green teaching and learning processes the responsibility of an individual as a consumer is addressed, considering aspects of sustainability in the context of TVET means promoting vocational and social shaping skill as well as the willingness to take on producer responsibility in areas where the learners / working people can act and make decisions.

Sustainable development aims at the ability to shape the future and extends the concept of vocational competence by green skills like the following:

  • ability to recognize, assess and avoid or reduce vocational action’s direct and indirect impacts on the environment as well as living and working conditions along the supply chain;
  • ability to expert shaping work, economy and technology;
  • knowledge and ability to manage energy and resources effectively and efficiently in one’s own scope of action and decision making;
  • cross-occupational communication and cooperation skills along the supply chain;
  • ability to participate in cooperate and social dialogues on sustainable development.

Technically, effective (and not only efficient) use of energy and materials as well competent that also means critically-reflecting application of procedures and technologies are essential.

TVET institutions have a key role to play.


Greening concept2
Source: Mertineit 2014

Insofar TVET has an important role to play in the context of a green(ing) economy, state as well as private TVET institutions have to face considerable demands: Here, the approaches and concepts regarding the consideration of sustainability issues in vocational courses - developed on macro level - manifest themselves. Here, it appears in practice which specific green skills have to be trained in order to enable individuals to participate in the green social transformation process by means of competent occupational activities.

Thus, contributing to a sustainable development becomes a core task on TVET institutions. Thereby sustainability is much more than an additional temporary topic, which can be left to individual teachers, trainers or instructors or executed in single projects.

In the beginning of 2015, our institute developed a revised quality model on Greening TVET Institutions. It consists of ten quality areas (five input and five output areas, each concretised by guiding principles and criteria (input areas) or guiding principles, criteria and indicators (output areas). Fundament is a profound TVET performance in the institution.

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