Three reasons why we must urgently upskill and reskill the workforce (2021)
The need for continuous upskilling and reskilling as part of a lifelong learning culture is becoming increasingly apparent. The disruptive trends driving this need, including climate change, and emerging technologies have been underway for quite some time. The difference now is that the pace of emerging technologies is accelerating and converges with as well as enables the transition to a Circular Economy (CE). The pandemic has only propelled even further the digital transformation of companies and a reconsideration of work modalities. CE is the means to achieve decoupling of economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design and prevent environmental collapse. It offers a viable pathway to grow out of the linear economy. The converging changes mean that individuals must navigate a steep learning curve and adapt to the need for continuous upskilling and reskilling to remain relevant and ahead of the curve in the new working landscape.
To support and accelerate the transition to CE, the Circular Economy Alliance has made it its mission to provide the current and future workforce with the foundational skills and knowledge on Circular Economy. In this sense, by proactively developing the CE body of knowledge, CEA is filling a gap in the traditional education and training system which will take time to adapt the traditional curriculum build on 19th century needs, to the pressing 21st century challenges.
1. Circular Economy is a Systemic change
Circular Economy is a systemic change and encompasses all aspects of the economy. In other words, it means that circular practices need to be implemented by all organisations at all levels and processes to close the resource loops and develop the value cycles. This means that CE concepts and principles need to be integrated in all training and education levels and areas. The intent would be to change the behaviour and mindset of individuals and create a shared understanding and language regarding the complex challenges we are facing. Changing individual behaviour and mindset can enable searching for solutions that cater for the people and the planet while still pursuing economic prosperity.
2. Circular Solutions
Identifying CE solutions is a fundamental practical consideration for implementing CE. This is highly dependent on an educated, competent, and innovative workforce that will understand the purpose and principles of CE, drive the adoption of circular business models, and be able to apply cross disciplinary skills and knowledge to develop circular solutions. It is therefore crucial to introduce urgently circular skills and knowledge across all upskilling and reskilling programmes to unlock the potential of the current workforce. Additionally, circular skills and knowledge need to be integrated horizontally across the formal training and education curriculum to provide a solid foundation for the future workforce.
3. Leaving no one behind
The transition from the linear economy to CE will cause a major shift in the job market with jobs being replaced and lost and new roles created. The uncertainty of which jobs will be lost and replaced and the nature and skills profile of the emerging roles, as well as the scale and pace of the change can cause unnecessary concern and social instability. Therefore, to mitigate the risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion and leave no one behind a massive skills revolution needs to take place urgently. The aim is to close the skills gap between the existing skills of the workforce and the skills needed to enable the productive participation of the workforce in CE. In this respect, collaborative governance between international bodies, governments, private organisations, and civil society, is essential to manage a socially fair, inclusive, and just transition to CE.
Take action now
Join the Circular Economy Alliance today, to learn more about the impact of the CE transition on the labour market, examine a multifaceted framework for closing the skills gap, and explore the relationship between skills development, organisational transformation, and competitive advantage. The valuable insights we offer are reinforced with selected good practices to highlight the practical application by private organisations and governments around the world.