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Policy Briefs

The Roles and Relationships of Vocational and Higher Education in Supporting Economic Recovery and the Just Transition

Task Force: Social cohesion, economic transformation and open societies

Ken Spours ,
Paul Grainger


This policy brief considers the interconnected themes of economic recovery and the Just Transition (JT) – achieving net-zero emissions through greater social justice, linked to Presidency Priority 2 – Economic stability and transformation: setting the course for economic recovery, financial stability and for a sustainable, social and just global economic system. This sits within the strategic purpose of the G7 to promote democracy and pluralism. There are several related challenges in achieving Net Zero as we seek to ‘build back better’ following the COVID era. These include the conceptual challenge of understanding the relationship between different types of crises; reducing class gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and making ecological sustainability a possibility for low-income groups and vulnerable populations that are most impacted by the climate emergency. The Policy Brief starts by describing the multi-layered crisis and locating the JT in relation to other sustainability initiatives and concepts. The JT is then conceptualised through a multi-level social ecosystem model that embraces different levels of society from the micro- to the macro-, with a particular emphasis on the middle scalars (meso and exo) that embrace communities, organisations, and local/regional economies and governance. These are underpinned by local democracy. The Brief explores different dimensions of the JT, with specific reference to technical and vocational education, including higher education (TVET) and the role of TVET institutions in relationship to local and regional JT systems. Proposals include recommendations that TVET institutions collaborate, in a pluralistic way, with each other, with wider civil society partners and climate campaigners to generate the skills in support of a comprehensive Just Transition Action Plan.