Academic journal article International Journal of Training Research

The Development of Green Skills through the Local TAFE Institute as a Potential Pathway to Regional Development

Academic journal article International Journal of Training Research

The Development of Green Skills through the Local TAFE Institute as a Potential Pathway to Regional Development

Article excerpt


This research provides a case study into how a regional TAFE Institute in Victoria, Australia, contributes to regional innovation and development through its formation of skills for the green economy. The study employs the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition for 'a green economy' which is 'an economy that results in improved human well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities' (UNEP 2011, p. 2). Similarly the study utilises the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations definition of 'green skills':

Green skills, or skills for sustainability, are the professional and vocational skills, as well as the generic skills (such as sustainable approaches, innovation and problem solving) required for new green jobs and the greening of existing jobs across all industry sectors as a response to climate change and sustainability imperatives (DEEWR 2011, p. 31)

Acceptance of climate change science has given rise to the support and adoption of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Mitigation strategies are aimed at reducing the output of greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation strategies focus on how people and organisations can adjust their behaviour to take account of the impacts of climate change (Head, 2009). The push for a transition to a low carbon economy is both a mitigation and adaptation strategy and sits at the forefront of various government agendas across the world. Significant structural change of this magnitude though, needs to be supported by political will. In Australia the development of a green economy is being supported to varying degrees by the federal and state governments.

Fundamental to the support for a green economy is the development of green skills. The main policy guiding the development of green skills was provided when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) ratified the Green Skills Agreement (GSA) to take effect in 2010. This was closely followed by the Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment (MCTEE) releasing the Green Skills Agreement Implementation Plan 2010-2011 to operationalise the GSA. The GSA and the Implementation Plan to some degree tied the vocational education and training sector to the mitigation and adaptation strategies being used to address climate change.

A high priority amongst the strategies for change is the setting of targets for lowering carbon and pollution emissions and for increasing the levels of alternative and renewable energy being developed and used. With the drive for change come opportunities for growth and re-generation, some of which can occur across regional Australia. As the evidence in this study shows, this regional TAFE Institute provides important infrastructure and human resources around which innovation and regional development can coalesce. Likewise there is a reciprocal flow of critical intelligence that exists between the TAFE institute, and workplaces within developing industries.

The following section maps out some of the key and existing findings associated with the areas of, regional VET provision, green jobs, and VET and green skills. Together, these three areas provide a foundation for this study. This is followed by a reporting and discussion of the perceptions and understandings of participants drawn from key players in the community, TAFE managers, TAFE teachers, and TAFE students.

Regional VET provision

This subsection reviews some of the existing understandings of regional VET provision which are relevant to the current study. Structural and workplace change and the potential for emerging opportunities are key themes.

A recent OECD report has described the Victorian economy as historically based on manufacturing and that this is changing (OECD, 2010). Garnett and Lewis (2007) have shown how employment in the agriculture, and services to agriculture, have plummeted throughout regional Australia over the last decade. …

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