Centre for Researching Education and Labour

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Skill formation for a Just Transition

Just transitions require an approach to skills formation that is strongly place-based and which can play a transformative role in local communities. Furthermore, skills for a just transition need to facilitate distributed agency that is needed across individuals, organisations and systems to drive regime change and work against the lock-ins that hinder structural and systemic change. These policy and practice challenges point to the need to not simply ‘match’ supply and demand for skills, but also to the need to support educational and occupational progression, social justice, wellbeing, resilience to climate change and sustainability.

The Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) has been involved in a range of projects related to skills for a just transition (JT). While these projects focus on different aspects such as the just transition of food systems, skills for the circular economy, and the just energy transition (JET) there are similarities and various points of intersection. For example, the projects have highlighted the need for best practice examples to be learned from international cases that have successfully incorporated just transitions in order to gain insight on reskilling and upskilling requirements, the need for government capacity development and priority alignment as well as skills anticipation methodologies in South Africa and across Africa. The centre has vast experience on work related to JET seen through projects and research such as South Africa’s Energy Skills Roadmap, Economic and Labour Market Analysis for the JT, Learning Pathways for the JT, and Skills for the Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET-IP).

A central aspect of REAL’s work on skills for a just transition especially in the South African context has been centred around upskilling and reskilling cases in relation to transitioning value chains e.g. from manufacturing of Internal Combustion Engine vehicles to electric vehicles and different potential value chains that current workers in transitioning sectors can move to (e.g. from coal mining to agriculture). 

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