The European green agricultural sector (food, agri, animal husbandry, nature, living environment and leisure) is from an economic, social and sustainable point of view important for a prosperous, sustainable and green future worldwide. The European Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) emphasize this position and the challenges the green sector needs to face. The partners of this project are inspired by these goals and believe that green agriculture educational institutes on secondary, tertiary and higher level should take an important role in educating enough qualified students who are well prepared with the appropriate green sustainable and circular skills to achieve these goals. Especially related to SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production, SDG 14 – Life below water and SDG 15 – Life on land.
However the problem all partners face is that the number of students entering their green agricultural schools is dropping steadily, while the number of students is already far from enough to fulfil the jobs within the green job market.
The main causes for this gap between the jobs related to the green job market and upcoming green circular society and the students’ needs are:
- the lack of flexibility of schools to modernize their programs quickly enough;
- the location of the schools in rural areas, while the students are mainly living in the cities;
- the attractiveness of the green schools to new target groups that are not traditionally their main target group;
- the lack of cooperation with regional business and social service organisations also related to other sectors (cross-overs);
- the increasing but unknown career perspective related to green knowledge and skills;
- the large number of students who are not capable of making a thought-out choice of education.
The overall European wide analysis is that the necessary increase of the number of students with innovative, green, circular skills and knowledge might be achieved by expanding additional efforts to acquire and retain new target groups, especially the multicultural urbanised youth and lifelong learners.
We also believe that the attractiveness of green VET-schools to these new target groups can increase by positioning green schools and programs in a positive and innovative way and within the context of our new sustainable and green society of tomorrow. This can be achieved by acting from the perspective of the Whole School Approach of Sustainable Development. An approach in which one works on the renewal of the curriculum, didactics, business operations, professionalization and cooperation with the surroundings of the school from an integral and interdisciplinary viewpoint.
In PROGRESS we will create a living community of green VET-schools in Europe in which we exchange good practises and co-operate to find solutions to renew and promote our schools, programs and courses aiming to attract new types of students like urbanised youth and lifelong learners and make them aware of the great opportunities green knowledge and skills and the green sector in general can provide them.
The good practises with all kinds of innovative methods and practical tools and recommendations will be shared and disseminated on a local, regional, national and EU-level through a multimedia and inspiring website, EUROPEA and multiplier events.