The 2003 Government White Paper ‘The Skills Strategy’ aimed to “ensure that employers have the right skills to support the success of their businesses and individuals have the skills they need to be both employable and personally fulfilled”. This leaves many gaps in personal development, building relationships, creative thinking, community engagement, awareness and understanding of broader issues and development of compassion, good citizenship, wisdom and enlightened thinkers. Transition Town Totnes uses the term The Great Reskilling to capture the immense scale of retraining that is needed in order for a society as oil dependent and unskilled as ours to be ready in time for a world that needs more skilled market gardeners and less website designers, more builders familiar with hemp, lime and clay, and less familiar with plywood, concrete and steel, and more solar installers and less oil fired central heating installers.
While third level education institutes in the UK have developed considerably in the last 25 years to embrace sustainable development and environmental sciences, there are very few courses and learning opportunities to prepare society for the major challenges we face. Many agricultural colleges and research institutes have closed and few farmers have sons and daughters prepared to fill their shoes or take on trainees to learn their trade. Few adult education courses offer the opportunity to learn about the issues around peak oil or climate change or skills for power-down such as retrofitting your home, urban food growing or getting involved with your local community. Apprenticeships, once the pride of many firms and businesses are now few and far between as inflation and economic instability have undermined long-term planning. Never before has education had such a vital role to play in preparing communities and the nation as a whole for profound change, and also in modelling, as institutions, the practicalities of that change.
Leave a comment
If you wish to comment on a particular paragraph
and quote the relevant number in your comment.