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Workshop on green transition and working life

18 May 2023

Annette Retsch, Vice-Chair Employability Working Group (University of Würzburg)

On 27th April the representatives of the CG Employability Working Group Annette Retsch (Vice-Chair, University of Würzburg) and Katrine Moland Hansen (University of Bergen) and Enora Bergot (CG Office) participated in the first workshop of the ERA4FutureWork subgroup that was initiated by the European Commission. The objective was to conceptualise and develop a research-based, future-oriented design of policies in HEI that integrate opportunities offered by technology, whilst successfully tackling emerging challenges of society towards a fair green transition. The meeting was co-organised by the ERA action sponsor FORTE.

The group was given an overview of green transition in Sweden by environmentalist Mikael Malmaeus (IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute), focusing on socio-ecological transition from the insufficient status quo of economic growth to more transformation, social perspectives and justice. Furthermore, Martin Karlsson, University relations manager at Northvolt, shared with the group ambitions in the field of renewable energy – the world’s most sustainable battery that has the potential to make oil history. In order to achieve this goal, the industry is reliant on a seamless link to universities, more extensive competence training and a fundamental change at universities towards green and digital transition.

Subsequently, Ulrika Harlin, industrial researcher with the Research Institutes of Sweden gave an introduction to industrial skills and abilities related to green transition in practice, focusing on the demand for new competences, the co-creation of new solutions and joint integration within industrial processes and new fields. Research officer Marika Palmér-Rivera at The Swedish Trade Union Confederation held a presentation about the Swedish model as a basis for a just green transition and its many challenges, one of which is insufficient adult education/lifelong learning, especially short and flexible options such as microcredentials. Investments in social and green industries that integrate labour, education and climate policies are vital to pursue a transition of conditions, lifelong education and development of skills and social security to build trust and distribution effects. Finally, Professor Karin Broberg of Lund University gave a talk on recycling metal waste and the consequential risks to the environment and workers, such as toxic exposure and health risks. These conflicts call for a change in norms and values with regards to recycling that provide for green solutions that comprise job safety and security at the workplace.

Participants were then divided into breakout groups and were invited to reflect upon the identification of emerging trends and knowledge gaps with respect to green transition and working life in the EU, and to formulate research and innovation questions and priorities for the next ten years, as well as to provide inputs on how to address them.

The meeting was concluded by a group discussion that recapitulated the insights of the talks, amongst other things focusing on educational systems and different types of educational goals, linking with Erasmus+, the definition of future skills, synergy between workplace education and educational programmes, rethinking education, the possibilities of co-creation, cooperation, shared knowledge and the exchange of good practices, and synergy effects between green ad digital transition. These insights touch and contribute to the Employability Working group discussions on how to raise awareness to both graduates and employers to ongoing and future changes such as the digital and green transitions. Therefore the communication campaign by DG R&I and DG EMPL over the whole year, including videos, publications, and social media, next to other dedicated events, will be much appreciated.

All presentations from the workshop are available on the Coimbra Group Intranet (for CG Members only).

The next online workshop on “Digital transition and working life: R&I actions, gaps and challenges” will take place on 16 June from 9:00 to 13.00 CET.