People's skills will have a major impact on our competitiveness and our ability to develop innovative products and innovations according to the rapidly changing global economy. Competitiveness and the ability to create innovations are attracting new investments, promote creation of new workplaces and economic growth. Europe’s future prosperity will depend on development of consumption skills and how well we will master the green skills and exploit our human capital.
Consumer skills and green skills must be developed in society in parallel. Green skills - the skills needed for employees or professionals allowing them to work in a new workplace in a different industries’ areas. Developing sustainable products and services can help develop a smart user. Developing and implementing ideas that focus on sustainability excellence (economic, social and environmentally sustainable products and services) through the concept of a circular economy from the initial design stage.
The ultimate goal of a circular economy is to create a closed product lifecycle: more waste is recycled and materials reused, which will benefit both the environment and the economy. The World Economic Forum has estimated that the demand for raw materials and natural resources would be reduced by 17-24% after the implementation of circular economy, and it would save €630 million per year. After analyzing countries economic and waste management indicators, it was noted that in countries with a high competitiveness index, recycling seeks up to 70%. These are countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom, etc. Today the amount of waste entering landfills in these countries is 2-4%. Scandinavian countries are the best example of circular economy implementation.
The European Commission has announced a circular economy strategy for plastics that might solve recycling, bio-transparency and hazardous substances found in plastics. The production and consumption of polymers is growing rapidly as polymers have very different, sometimes unique, mechanical, physical and technological characteristics. By usage, the polymers are grouped into plastics, elastomers and fibres.
Polymer products can be used instead metal and ceramic products, they are similar to glass, but not brittle. Some polymers are more resistant than metals in atmospheric and chemical substances, moisture, acids, alkalis, salt solutions do not harm them. Waste is recycled easier and cheaper than metal or glass one, hence lowering production costs. Growing demand for polymer products in construction and development of infrastructure, includes growth of qualified employees with green and digital skills.
The plastics industry today can produce just about everything, so the demand is huge. There are also opportunities to use polymer durable items that can be used to recycle and create new design and functionality products. It is one of the basic principles of the circular economy. In this way, problems with natural pollution can be solved. Therefore, the new VET program, which will be developed by the UPSKILL, will prepare employees with the knowledge and competencies needed for efficient processes and technologies and integrate into business and community practices.
Opportunities for developing green skills during the UPSKILL:
I - an assessment of sustainability mastery skills, from which UPSKILL participants can identify what skills they have and what are missing. Development and implementation of ideas through the concept of the circular economy from the initial design stage will help to evaluate the skills. They acquire skills for sustainability mastery (economically, socially and environmentally sustainable products and services).
II - learning opportunities are applied to the specific needs of the individual and the needs of the local labour market. New investments and adaptation of the innovation in the region create new workplace.
III – opportunities to validate and recognize acquired skills and competences.