Skills for the future

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Education for Sustainability (EfS) is a combination of attributes, values, skills, and knowledge - all of which are essential for students and graduates looking to gain meaningful employment in the future. 

Values

UNESCO defines EfS values as: 

  • respect for the dignity and human rights of people throughout the world, and a commitment to social and economic justice for all
  • respect for the human rights of future generations and commitment to intergenerational responsibility
  • respect and care for the greater community of life in all its diversity, which involves the protection and restoration of the Earth's ecosystems
  • respect for cultural diversity and a commitment to build locally and globally a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.

By delivering the kind of education that is based on these values, students are empowered to become 'global citizens' who appreciate their place and impact on the world. This makes them better decision makers and moves us closer to achieving sustainability.

You can be a good leader but if you don't have a view of where the world is heading, then you won't have the skills to make your business succeed
Jason Perks
Two Tomorrows, 2011

Skills

In the light of an uncertain future, employers are looking for all-important sustainability skills to safeguard them against risks. Sustainability skills are similar to some generic graduate skills but are used to achieve long-term goals. Examples include:

  • creative problem solving
  • critical awareness and ability to assess information
  • capacity for self-reflection
  • a commitment to lifelong learning
  • innovative and proactive approach
  • adaptable and resilient to change
  • engaging and dynamic communication – written and oral skills
  • effective networkers and facilitators
  • work cooperatively with others
  • understand how to act as a responsible citizen
  • 'systems thinking' – understand how environments, societies and economies are all connected and impact on one another
  • understand how your actions affect the future, both your own and others'.

Knowledge 

There is no definitive list of 'sustainability knowledge', indeed it is a topic that we learn more about everyday. A useful way of understanding the breadth of sustainability could be to take a look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which cover a range of topics from Quality Education and Health and Wellbeing, to Life on Land and Below the Seas. 

Sustainable development goals poster