Sustainable Development Skills...
  Sustainable Development Skills...

People at Work can promote sustainable development

What does 'Sustainable Development' mean?

The main strength - and weakness, with the term 'sustainable develoment' is that it means different things to different people. There are many definitions, the most famous being "Bruntland's"

The key component of sustainable development is that development should be a balance between environmental, social and economic considerations to be sustainable. Organisations in developed countries tend to see the environmental component strongly, whereas developing countries concentrate on the social and economic issues - particularly poverty.

While there has been a lot of debate about sustainable development, this has not translated very well into what people can DO at an organisational level. There is now a formal BSI sustainable development management system (introduced in 2006). However, we are concerned at the skills development for the rest of the workforce.

Skills for Sustainable Development

However, there are no National Occupational Standards (NOSs) that spell out the necessary skills for Sustainable Development. Such NOSs would be developed by Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). SSCs are required to "take the particular they will give employees ...confidence that: sustainable development and rising public expectations are being assessed accurately and professionally."

DEFRA have produced, in their series "Sustainable Development through Edcuation", a Learning Guide for Sector Skills Councils. This spells out what SSCs could do:

  • Be a link between vocational education institutions and government by promoting sustainable development and the practical requirements of business.
  • Faced also with the challenge to build skills capacity and increase productivity dramatically, may find that this new area of sustainable development learning could contribute to achieving these other two goals.
  • Set standards for sustainable development and provide access to relevant training and development.

It is intended that at least one Sector Skills Council may take the lead in identifying the skills required for promoting sustainable development for all levels of employees, including managers, autonomous workers and supervisored workers.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in "Learning the Sustainability Lesson" said: "Although there seems to be a degree of consensus regarding what we need to learn and understand about sustainable development there has been no systematic assessment of the extent to which these skills are currently being integrated".

The new Sector Skills Development Agency made Sustainable Development skills development a key aim a few years ago. A Steering Group was set up. Charlie Clutterbuck, Director of EPaW was nominated by the UK government's Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee (TUSDAC) to this SSDA Steering Group. But nothing has happened.

Many government agenices, particular Local Authorities and Regional Development Authorities have a responsibility to implement sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Commission would like to see "skills of sustainable development viewed as the central priority of skills policy, and as a critical goal of organisations", but there is no mention of skills in their plans for 2006/7.

For more details of sustainability skills development, check out managers, skilled workers and supervised workers.

Do you want to join in the online debate about sustainability skills development? Go and log in. Then to join the 'skills' forum, you will need the password: paradigm. For the manguage firum, you will need:crouch