This 2022 submission by Colleges and Institutes Canada to Natural Resources Canada recognizes the role of education as an instrument to help that country succeed in moving towards a net zero and ‘green’ economy.

The paper suggests that “Canada’s colleges and institutes believe that win-win solutions for this transition are not only possible but are already here.” It’s interesting to highlight what is going on there given that the green economy is featuring more prominently in Australia’s VET rhetoric. There are two foci in the paper: first, giving young people these skills and second upskilling mid-career workers.

Focus 1: Empowering Youth to Lead in the Green Economy

The paper argues that colleges need to prepare young people for jobs of the future, and to ensure they have skills to compete in all sectors of a sustainable economy. It suggests Canadian institutions have become more adept at integrating sustainability and green skills across more disciplines. They have done this by “upgrading existing curriculum and introducing new programs, expanding their delivery methods, and providing a range of offerings from micro credentials to certificates, apprenticeship training, and diplomas and degrees.”


“to ensure young people are entering the workforce with competencies and skills communities need to make the green shift, [their] federal government should support the transition of transferable and specific training to fields that achieve a sustainable economy, particularly energy efficiency, alternative fuel, and electrification. Adaptation to the green economy will require the right skills across all sectors, including familiarity with green technology, green values and practices, and knowledge for greening existing jobs.”

The paper recommends that the development of … training on green skills at Canada’s colleges that can easily be shared for rapid expansion around the country and adapted to meet each region’s labour market needs.”

In this way, they suggest, “the government can turbocharge green skills adoption.”

Focus 2: Upskilling mid-career workers

The current labour force in Canada will need these greening skills too they reckon, and:

“Ensuring mid-career workers have green skills or pathways to access those skills will be crucial to helping Canada’s shift to green jobs. It is also essential that the training these mid-career workers receive be fast, innovative and high-quality.”

This approach enables mid-career workers to develop skills needed for sustainable jobs, and to upskill or reskill by using a variety of offerings such as micro credentials, postgraduate certificates and contract training and create clear pathways into sustainable jobs that minimize the loss of talent in the labour market. As an example, such programs could include skills for the high-performance building sector by providing short, relevant micro credentials in clean energy, efficient building design, and high-performance building construction.

Capitalising on provider-based R and D capacity in green skills

The paper suggests that “Canada’s colleges and institutes [can] offer a one stop shop for businesses to test, build and scale-up their products while giving students the opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies and tools.” (VDC News looked at the potential usefulness of such applied R and D capacity for Australian VET in an article from the last issue.) Such an approach could “support innovation, facilitate the shift to a green economy and ensure students graduate with skills and knowledge of cutting-edge green technology.” Indeed, and as the paper points out: “Canada’s colleges can leverage assets to make an impact beyond the campus: business-led R&D for clean tech, talent pipeline, retraining, as well as their core business of education for good jobs.”

Finally, Jobs and Skills Australia will be releasing the outcomes of its Clean Energy Capacity Study around September. Further information on that work is available here.