‘Empowering for Change’ workshop predicts the skills we’ll need for the future

While students have checked out for summer holiday, the Young Innovators team is hard at work preparing for an incoming class of changemakers.

In July, EIT Climate-KIC hosted the second edition of the Empowering for Change workshop — only this time, it took place entirely online!

A talented group of education experts connected from the corners of Europe for a collaborative exploration focused on mobilization strategies to leverage major opportunities such as the European Green Deal and ‘building back better’ post-COVID 19.

Our first guest, Jakub Samochowiec, kicked off the morning with a presentation on Future Skills: Four scenarios for the world of tomorrow. As a senior researcher at the GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, he outlined the study’s four possible scenarios that could change the way we live and work in the decades to come and how to best prepare children and young people for the challenges ahead.

Samochowiec explained the difficulty in preparing youth for one specific outcome as our future increasingly deviates from the world of today. Therefore, skills of self-determination such as self-motivation, self-efficacy and the ability to make decisions in groups become consequently important.

“Future Skills” are competences that allow individuals to solve complex problems in evolving contexts, enabling them to take successful action. They are based on cognitive, motivational, and social resources and can be acquired in a learning process.

To empower children and young people to create the future, the study proposes three categories of skills: Knowing (basic knowledge), Wanting (goal-setting), and Doing (taking action). The study also remarked on the critical role communities will bear in shaping a collective future.

With help from our delivery partners, we dialed in on the most important skills for enabling a net-zero society and mapped out the hardest challenges to overcome. Creativity, problem solving, and systems thinking currently make up the core competencies of the Young Innovators programme, but implementing them is another story.  

The group explored ways of leveraging the power of community to reinvent the status quo of our education systems and support students in every stage of development. Partnerships with parents and local actors emerged as part of the “whole school” approach presented by Aravella Zachariou, of Frederick University, Cyprus.

While this approach does strengthen youth innovation and employability, it is only one piece of the larger puzzle. Isabel Rey, representing Teachers for Futures Spain, also introduced the need for synergies at the international level for coordinating education proposals on climate change.

Lastly, professor Jan Fazlagic of the Poznań University of Economics dove deep into the cross-circular perspective of climate education. He facilitated a systems-mapping exercise to uncover how to make climate education a nonpartisan issue in our politically charged environments.

The productive morning closed with a meaningful reflection, sparking a newfound energy felt by the participants. Together, we concluded that the Young Innovators’ learning outcomes are on track to achieve the best-case scenario of a net-zero carbon economy. However, the programme will require agility to adapt as we enter this uncertain world. 

Until global carbon neutrally is realised, Young Innovators will continue to work towards training 3 million young people to become more effective systems-thinkers, so they are fully prepared to tackle the societal challenge of climate change.

It is our mission to equip future generations with the competencies needed to become changemakers and lead us towards a prosperous, inclusive and resilient society.