Not enough has been said about the kinds of skills development that are needed if we are to stem the rising tides and impacts of political economies that have largely been driving what some call ‘fossil capital’. This chapter develops an emerging argument that it is necessary to also rethink and reframe vocational education and training (VET) logics and approaches if the implications of a warming future are to be fully considered. This chapter provides the context of why this is such an urgent challenge and some thinking tools for understanding where we have come from and where we need to go.
This chapter introduces the main themes of the book. It justifies a concern with how the current policy and practice orthodoxy is not working despite the efforts of educators and learners. It is driven by a realization that the futures for which vocational education and training (VET) is intended to prepare people are ever more precarious at the individual, societal and planetary levels. And it is motivated by a sense that while better futures are possible, VET is poorly positioned to respond to the new skilling needs these will require. It introduces four cases from two Anglophone countries, Uganda and South Africa.
The book provides an immanent critique of the current state of VET and what underpins it being this way, and a vision of what a future, better VET might look like based on emerging visions of a better world and the first stirrings of new VET practices that are aligned with this vision. Thus, the book is intended to be part of an opening up of a new phase of VET research.
This chapter focuses particularly on the mediating role of the university, in close connection with vocational institutions and informal community actors, in developing an inclusive approach to vocational education and training (VET) through an expanded social ecosystem for skills model. It draws upon lessons learnt from the Alice and Gulu cases on community-based approaches to establishing an expanded skills ecosystem approach to VET in Africa. The main question guiding this chapter relates to the possible mediating role of the university to enhance a regional expanded ecosystem for supporting quality vocational education that is also relevant to its context, including emergent possibilities to build skills and livelihoods linked to just transitions.