Education goes together with progress – the reason why the government department loops ‘innovation and skills’ together.
Looking at energy, and naturally energy efficiency, it’s one of those areas where the academic meets the vocational: complex science and maths hand in hand with the building trades, installers and domestic trouble-shooters. The two are in no way mutually exclusive.
Last year our CEO Philip blogged away at Which? Conversation about the need for combining the two elements – calling for a more in-depth training regime for renewables installers, basically, on the back of the work we did tightening heat pump standards.
More recently, this line of thinking has been given a high-profile endorsement in an interview with The Independent by Tim Smit – the guy who founded the Eden Project, no less.
He’s looking to bring back and makeover the idea of the technical college, equipping a new generation with sustainable construction skills via his HOW2 institution that will have courses available to all, digitally, from its base in Cornwall.
In the piece, he also talks of overcoming the major problem of technical skills ‘ageing’ as new developments evolve, by digital updates through mobile phone apps and other media. He expands:
“People who have been through further education, who’ve become the plumbers, the whole range of installers, are now, unless they’re very lucky or very driven, set in aspic. They’re recommending the technologies they learnt on, which might have been years and years ago. There’s no system of continuous upgrade.”
Of course, education isn’t just about adult vocational training. There’s also the importance of catching people early, there’ll be a ‘green’ culture central to everyone’s thinking. That’s certainly what the charity Waste Watch think. They recently launched a drive to get sustainability at the heart of the curriculum in schools from a young age – not just as an isolated or even extracurricular topic. But to do that, there has to be an element of ‘training the trainers’ too:
“Teachers need to be trained and supported to demonstrate how to embed sustainability in way that does not create more work but leads to better understanding, questioning and learning about core subjects framed within a changing world.”
Quite. There’s much to be improved on, but room for a little optimism. After all, few would doubt that mainstream knowledge of green issues from climate change to the ‘nuts and bolts’ like insulation and renewable energy hasn’t grown astronomically in the last decade. It all just has to tie together so there’s the will to take part in the green makeover our homes, buildings, transportation and behaviours need, and the knowledge to get the technical tweaks done well.
If there’s any great work being done in sustainable education or training that you’ve heard about, let us, and indeed everyone else, know in the comments bit below.