The energy transition will transform the economy, creating millions of new renewable energy and transition jobs, while also requiring the mainstreaming of green skills and competences in many existing occupations. These activities require tremendous efforts to be made in the areas of education and workforce training to produce a new generation of energy professionals, reskill the current workforce and create informed consumers.
Acknowledging this, IRENA, with the support of the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has established the Energy Transition Education Network (ETEN). The network unites governments, intergovernmental organizations, educational and training institutions, teaching associations, professional bodies, and other local and international stakeholders working at the forefront of education and skilling for a more sustainable future.
Founding partners include the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Teach for All, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Higher Education and Sustainability Initiative.
The network aims to advance energy education for both social transformation and training of the energy transition workforce.
“Progress on the energy transition cannot be achieved without equipping young people with the skills needed to succeed in a green economy. More broadly, we need to make sure that everyone in society is empowered to demand and contribute to change. This must start early within our education systems,” says Gauri Singh, deputy-director general of IRENA.
Educators are at the heart of building the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable future. With its emphasis on “Educating the Educators,” the network will provide educators with the tools, capacity building and innovative practices needed to successfully integrate renewable energy into their teaching practices.
“Empowering our teachers with the tools and knowledge to engage young people in the energy transition at an early phase of their learning is a crucial next step on the journey to a climate resilient, net zero future,” says Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, permanent representative of the UAE to IRENA.
Actors participating in energy and sustainability education can join the network and contribute to its working groups as well as share their tools, innovations and good practices.
The launch was followed by a series of discussions bringing together panelists at the forefront of renewable energy education and training. The panel, comprising of representatives from the founding partner organizations as well as the International Labour Organization, Alliance for Rural Electrification, Student Energy, Mahila Housing Trust, Teach for Lebanon and the Bezos Earth Fund, shared their related initiatives and discussed how cooperation through ETEN could enhance overall impact and address gaps in skilling.
“Sustainable energy is an enabler of equitable results for children,” states Maria Osbeck, senior program specialist at UNICEF. “It also strengthens the social services that children need to improve their lives.” “Energy transition is at the heart of climate action and greening education makes it happen,” stresses Won Jung Byun, UNESCO’s senior project officer, speaking about the connection between the energy transition and education.