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The future for young people remains uncertain since the initial shocks of the pandemic, when more than one in six stopped working altogether (ILO, 2020). Many are still in precarious and disadvantaged situations as their countries struggle to recover. At the same time, there is an urgent need to find ways to manage transitional challenges, particularly in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector.
UNESCO-UNEVOC is launching a year-long project to strengthen the resilience of UNEVOC Centres and other education and training stakeholders as part of the pandemic recovery process. The project seeks to stimulate opportunities for TVET systems, institutions and TVET stakeholders, including teachers and students, to adapt to new paradigms in education and training. This includes adopting resilient approaches and measures in planning, designing and implementing training in the three areas of digital delivery, greening TVET and entrepreneurial learning for a transition to a more sustainable economy and society with fair and equal opportunities.
Overall, the “Building TVET resilience for a just and sustainable transition” project is set to benefit over 30 institutions, either directly or indirectly, and around 200 stakeholders in up to 15 low- to lower-middle-income countries, paying special attention to countries in Africa and Small Island Developing States.
The project aligns with the broader aims of UNESCO’s upcoming Strategy for TVET 2022-2029 and its three main lines of action – developing skills for all individuals to learn, work and live; developing skills for inclusive and sustainable economies; and developing skills for inclusive and peaceful societies. “In the recovery phase, it is essential to support TVET institutions in the planning and implementation of inclusive approaches to skills development, reinforced by our joint commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Friedrich Huebler, Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC. Mr Huebler thanked GIZ for their partnership on the project and pointed out that “it comes at a key juncture for TVET institutions, given the significant contributions that they are expected to make to address multiple economic, social and environmental demands, while preparing learners for the jobs of the future.”
The ‘Building TVET resilience for a just and sustainable transition’ project ran from January 2022 to March 2023. The project was implemented with the support of the German Federal Government through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Inclusion in TVET
This resilience project follows on from UNESCO-UNEVOC’s 2021 COVID-19 response project – Strengthening the Responsiveness, Agility and Resilience of TVET institutions for the Post-COVID-19 Era – which assisted TVET institutions in their efforts to deliver short-term skills training to marginalized groups and adopt remote and blended learning approaches to practical training during the COVID-19 crisis. Amid a changing post-pandemic environment for jobs, the new project engages TVET institutions in creating training opportunities in a fair and inclusive manner with a special focus on disadvantaged groups and vulnerable communities. Building back better at the global level will have to be translated into local development approaches where training and other opportunities protect the interests of individuals, societies and economies.
Resilience for a digital transition
Whereas the previous COVID-19 response project facilitated teachers and trainers swiftly moving to online learning and training approaches, the resilience project tackles wider digitalization challenges. It examines the systemic and policy changes needed to improve resilience in developing strategies for distance or blended learning and upgrading training delivery using digital tools, thereby ensuring that teachers can improve their digital competencies to manage shifts in learning and teaching. The project also fosters partnerships and interactions in specific sectors to better withstand future shocks, with a cross-cutting emphasis on inclusion to address the needs of different groups of learners.
Preparing for a just and green transition
Some businesses will decline and others flourish in the post-pandemic economic landscape. In order to build back better, TVET institutions and stakeholders need to either provide skills for the industries that will experience increased demand in the coming years or prepare learners for self-employment. In particular, TVET institutions will have to develop resilient approaches not only to develop work-oriented skills, but also the entrepreneurial mindsets to nurture green businesses and co-create the path for greener economies. Technical assistance infused with capacity-building approaches will help these institutions to monitor changes in skills demands, develop re-skilling or upskilling opportunities and be better equipped, for example with updated curricula, to adapt to change and the expectations placed on TVET.
Future-proofing TVET institutions
The project experiences and insights shared on concrete opportunities and conditions for developing resilience in different institutional and national settings, together with data collection and analysis of the project activities, will be compiled to provide practical guidance to TVET institutions. In this way, the lessons learned will have a multiplier effect and contribute to building TVET resilience on a global level.
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