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Training for Circularity: Upskilling, reskilling, mobility and job creation

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The Circular Economy (CE) offers an operational pathway to grow out of the linear economy and achieve economic growth, while ensuring prosperity for the people and the wellbeing of the planet. At its core, CE is a systemic change that needs to be applied in all processes and value cycles and by all stakeholders in the economy. Given this premise, the chapter examines the anticipated disruption in the labor market, as we move from the traditional linear economy towards a CE. Increasingly, new skills and competences will have to support the narrowing, slowing, and closing of the resource loops. Continuous upskilling and reskilling of the workforce is needed to leave no one behind and ensure an inclusive and just transition. In this respect, we consider the need for a lifelong learning system and the significance of vocational education and training to provide pathways to continuous upskilling and reskilling programs. Emphasis is given on developing the basic elements of a proposed framework to facilitate closing the gap between the present skills of the workforce and the future skills needed. 

In addition, the chapter looks at the significant role organizations can play in developing a skilled and innovative workforce and the link with organizational transformation and developing a competitive advantage. The chapter outlines practical guidelines for developing a workforce strategy based on CE principles. The aim is to align the organizational objectives with the interests and ambitions of the employees and contribute to developing a learning culture. Organizations can attract and retain talent and maintain a skilled and motivated workforce with this approach. The workforce can solve circular economy challenges and create a competitive advantage for the organization. 

Throughout the chapter, selected best practices are presented to highlight the application of the framework and guidelines and support the diffusion of practical experiences and knowledge. 

Policymakers and professionals at all levels will appreciate the enormous challenges facing the workforce in the transition to CE and the need to take proactive measures to mitigate the impact. In this respect, they will enhance their understanding of the latest trends in the labor market, the expected shift in the working landscape and the impact on jobs and skills needed. The need to close the skills gap to ensure an inclusive and just transition to CE and maintain economic competitiveness will become apparent. Ultimately, they will expand their perspective on the components required to develop the skills and competences of the workforce. 

The upskilling and reskilling efforts are related to SDG 4, aiming to promote training, education and lifelong learning systems and SDG 8, aiming to provide decent jobs and drive economic growth. More broadly however, the development of skills also lays the foundation for the realization of all other SDGs. 

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