Mr. Adil Abbasi is a member of ICMA Pakistan and serves as the Principal of TVET Institute of PVTC, Government of Punjab. He is a professional blogger and writes about business, finance, and skills development.
“Green is a process, not a status. We need to think of ‘green’ as a verb, not an adjective.” – Daniel Goleman
Therefore, we use the term “greening skills” rather than “green skills.”
In 2009, a group of students, including females, from a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institute of PVTC in Jhang, a city in central Punjab, Pakistan, had a revolutionary idea: to convert the trash into fertilizer. With the support of their instructor and the institute, they put their plan into action, collecting garbage from the local communities and processing it to produce fertilizer.
This remarkable work caught the attention of many, and the team was invited to participate in a Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Contest in collaboration with the British Council and YES Network Pakistan. The contest was held in England back in 2009. To everyone’s surprise, the team won the highest award among all the countries, beating out the competition from seven other South Asian countries.
This inspiring story from a small institute in a small city demonstrates the potential of the TVET sector to make a significant contribution to resolving environmental issues by imparting greening skills. Waste management is a major problem, and this story shows that with the right skills, ideas, and entrepreneurial resolve, we can turn even the biggest environmental challenges into opportunities.
Let’s look more closely at what greening skills are and how greening TVET can help us find the answers we need. The article concludes with a real-world example of a sustainable greening business model.
Greening skills, also known as “green collar skills,” refer to the skills and knowledge needed to work in a variety of fields related to environmental sustainability and protection.
Planning & Execution Skills
They include skills related to policy and regulation, communication, and project management, which are essential for successfully implementing and promoting sustainable practices across various sectors of the economy. By leveraging these skills, organizations can ensure that their operations are in line with environmental and social objectives, while also achieving economic growth.
Technical greening skills are related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and other areas of environmental science and technology. The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector plays a significant role in imparting these essential skills to the next generation of environmental stewards. TVET is helping to create a more sustainable future by giving people the knowledge and skills they need to make good decisions about the environment.
Sustainable Business Skills
Converting planning and technical greening skills into sustainable entrepreneurial ventures is essential. If we don’t ensure sustainable businesses under the umbrella of greening TVET, the chances are that our efforts will not be sustained in the long run. Given the future scenario, green entrepreneurial skills are going to be in high demand as more and more organizations, businesses, and governments prioritize sustainability and strive to reduce the negative impacts of growth on the environment.
Importance of Greening Skills
Training young people in greening skills and sustainable business practices is essential for the future of our planet. Not only are the youth the future leaders of our society but they are also the ones who will be responsible for addressing the environmental challenges we face. By teaching them about sustainability and how to operate in an environmentally conscious way, we can ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions and take action to protect the environment.
Moreover, by learning about sustainable business practices, young people can help drive change within the business sector, which is a major contributor to environmental degradation. By starting and operating businesses that prioritize sustainability, young people can help shift the business landscape towards more sustainable practices, which can have a positive impact on the environment.
Furthermore, greening skills, such as conservation and restoration techniques, can help young people directly contribute to environmental protection efforts. These skills can be used to restore ecosystems, improve soil health, and implement sustainable land management practices, all of which can help preserve natural habitats and reduce the impact of human activities on the environment.
TVET Sector’s Response to Environmental Issues
As awareness of the devastating effects of environmental destruction continues to grow, people are thinking about taking action to help protect the planet. One way is by providing training in greening skills.
The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector is here to respond to environmental concerns by creating courses and programs that educate and train students about addressing environmental issues and implementing sustainable solutions in their workplaces. This is a beneficial step, as it equips graduates with the necessary skills to make a tangible impact.
Technical education and vocational training programs can come forward with the following steps to help address the challenges of environmental degradation:
- Incorporate sustainability principles into training curricula
- Train students in green technologies
- Partner with environmental organizations
- Promote sustainable practices in the workplace
Greening Skills & TVET
The preceding section was about the general response of the TVET sector to environmental issues. In this section, we will examine some specific steps the TVET sector can take to overcome the challenges of climate change. We can broadly categorize the TVET response into five categories.
The most important thing is for a training institute to adopt the greening philosophy and practices. A TVET institute is a place where skilled people work together, and they can take various measures to adopt greening practices. One of the measures is to switch to solar energy systems. Additionally, training material waste can be used for productive purposes, following the five Rs philosophy (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle) of managing waste.
The next big thing the TVET sector can do is to include greening skills as part of the training curriculum. This includes developing such courses and training programs that enable students to use green and clean technology, become competent at greening jobs, and be able to convert existing jobs into greening jobs.
A TVET institute is primarily a community center, usually located in areas where vulnerable communities exist. The local community is often involved in TVET institute affairs at various levels. What TVET institutes can do is create awareness, engage the community in plantation drives, provide technical support, and introduce unique practices, as our story highlighted at the start of this article.
Although presently TVET institutes lack resources, they can be transformed into greening practices research centres. They can explore innovative practices in renewable energy, water treatment, and waste recycling.
Last but not the least, as emphasized in the first quote in the starting paragraph, greening is a process, not a status. This is not limited to the TVET sector; all should adopt and uphold greening values. The best thing we can do is adopt a greening attitude, greening ethics, and greening practices.
Sector-wise Environmental Issues and TVET Responses
|Sector||Key Environmental Issues||Probable TVET Response|
|Manufacturing sector||Low-value product designs||Training the workforce to design high-value products that last long and benefit many.|
|Buying excessive raw material||Training labor to assess actual needs, and reduce consumption.|
|Generation of waste materials||Training individuals as per 5 R principles: (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle)|
|Construction sector||Noise pollution||Training in operating construction machinery.|
|Debris and landfill waste||Training in reducing waste and reusing it.|
|Resource depletion||Training in efficient resource utilization.|
|Energy usage||Training in the design of energy-efficient buildings and electrical installations, as well as the incorporation of renewable energy generation methods into buildings.|
|Agriculture sector||Inefficient use of irrigation water, fertilizers, and pesticides.||Training in agricultural production, organic farming, using energy-efficient technology, and irrigation technologies.|
|Food & beverage sector||Generation of water waste, solid waste, and packaging waste.||Training in advanced water treatment, improved packaging, process control, and food irradiation.|
A Greening Business Initiative: Recycling Plastic Trash to Make Bricks
An initiative cannot be long-lasting unless it is incorporated into sustainable revenue-generating activities. Sustainable business models are of the utmost importance when it comes to implementing greening initiatives. These business models can take two forms. First, waste management activities can be conducted under sustainable business models, allowing us to dispose of or use generated waste efficiently.
Second, existing business practices can be converted into eco-friendly business ventures. To illustrate this, I will present an example of a successful greening business model. Nzambi Matee, a Kenyan inventor, developed a process for recycling plastic waste into bricks. Matee was inspired to create the bricks after noticing the amount of plastic waste in her community and the lack of affordable building materials.
To create the bricks, Matee mixed plastic waste with sand and heated the mixture in a machine she had designed. The heat caused the plastic to melt and bind with the sand, creating a strong and durable building material. Matee said that the bricks were stronger and more resistant to weathering and erosion than traditional clay bricks.
Matee’s invention has been praised for its potential to address two pressing issues: plastic pollution and the high cost of building materials. By recycling plastic waste into bricks, Matee’s process helps to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills while also providing an affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional building materials.
While environmental concerns are threatening, they also present an opportunity for upskilling youth. The right investments in this space will help us create the world we want to live in. It is high time that greening skills programs are widely and effectively implemented. The TVET sector should be brought on board and be incentivized with financial and logistical support.
The government, policymakers, and community should also encourage sustainable business models by initiating a dialogue about the impact of our choices on the environment. The sooner we accept this reality, the better for the environment and future generations.
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