Report: Current green transition policies are insufficient, ambitious green guidance is needed

We published the first output of our work: a policy review that explores contemporary environmental and sustainability policies to provide an evidence base for thinking about the role that (green) career guidance can play. It is based on a rapid evidence review of international policy documents, relevant academic literature and case study reviews in six European countries (Czechia, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia). It finds a strong consensus exists around the need to address climate change, with many countries utilising the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to do this. Key arenas for action are labour market policy and education policy which creates an important context for green guidance. Currently, there is relatively little specific policy which addresses the role of career guidance in the green transition. Despite the policy busyness discussed in this report, it is also clear that current policy initiatives are insufficient to meet the primary policy aims of limiting the impacts of climate change and stopping environmental destruction. This policy failure also provides an important context for the development of green guidance. The document formulates the following recommendations:

  1. Green guidance is needed. There is a strong consensus that a green transition is required and that shifts in sectors, occupations, skills and education are key components of it. Given this there is a strong rationale for green guidance.
  2. Green guidance needs to be ambitious in its scope and aims. If green guidance is going to play even a modest role in the development of sustainable societies it will need to be ambitious. This means both expanding its reach into the population and addressing people’s careers in a holistic way that moves beyond just supporting them to make educational and occupational choices. This is likely to increase the need to discuss the interaction between learning, work, leisure, citizenship and a host of other elements of people’s life projects.
  3. Green guidance needs to attend to social justice. The recognition that climate change is substantially a consequence of the actions of the powerful and that it is experienced most substantially by the vulnerable needs to underpin the thinking of green guidance. In other words, green guidance cannot address environmental change without also attending to issues like inequality, decent work and equal access to education.
  4. Guidance professionals have a role to play in helping people to understand, choose and create green jobs. Green jobs are difficult to define. It is likely to be more helpful for both guidance professionals and individuals to use a variety of labour market information and data to assess the relative ‘greenness’ of jobs as part of their career decision making.
  5. Career guidance needs to act on both the supply and demand side of the labour market. While much career guidance work is focused on work with individuals, career guidance practitioners also have a role in engaging with employers and reflecting back their clients’ and society’s needs. Given this, career guidance practitioners need to be confident and competent to talk to employers about the need for the greening of the economy.
  6. Green guidance needs to address training and retraining rather than just occupational switching. While encouraging people to consider shifting to green jobs, is an important aspect of green guidance, it is likely that only a relatively small element of the green transition is brought about by occupational change. Many people are likely to find that the way that they do their jobs will change, which will require flexibility and a positive attitude to training and retraining.
  7. Green guidance should connect to wider frameworks for environmental and sustainability education. There has been a lot of thinking about how to address environmental issues through education. UNESCO’s ESD agenda is at the heart of much of this thinking, but the EU’s GreenComp approach is also worth engaging with. It is important for green guidance to actively engage with these agenda and use the space that they provide within the education system.
  8. Green guidance needs to adopt a critical edge and recognise that existing policies around the green transition are insufficient. While existing public policy offers a major space for the development and practice of green guidance, it is currently insufficient to delivery its stated policy aims. Given this it is important that green guidance is able to help people to understand the limitations of the current policy and practice of governments, businesses and other key actors. It should also encourage people to consider the roles that they can play through work, learning and citizenship in addressing climate change through their career and empower them to take action.

Download the policy report here.

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