As governments move in earnest toward a green economy, few countries are considering education policy that can facilitate the development of green skills for such transitions. Where policy discussions are happening, green skills are often conflated with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, with little attention to the breadth of green skills needed to achieve climate justice.
We present a green skills framework to help support policy stakeholders imagine a continuum of green skills for a just transition.
Methods and approach
This article applies a critical feminist lens to understand how green skills have been conceptualized across the gender and adolescence, greening and sustainability, and education fields. It also integrates the perspectives of stakeholders from climate, education, and gender-focused multilateral, government, and non-governmental organizations working on green skills.
The analysis finds that green skills coalesce around three distinct but overlapping paradigms. The first understands green skills through a technical lens as the specific capacities needed for green jobs. The second and third paradigms understand green skills through a sociological lens, seeking to tackle the behaviours and social structures driving the climate crisis. As such, they centre on cross-cutting generic capacities and transformative capacities, respectively. Taken together, the paper offers a new definition of green skills for policy stakeholders.
The three approaches to green skills outlined in this paper constitute the pillars of a new green learning agenda for climate action, climate empowerment, and climate justice. This green learning agenda fills a significant void in both climate policy and education policy, and could help governments address current capacity building needs while setting their populations up for the long-term social transformations required to achieve a just transition.