On 15 October 2019, BLOOM (represented by colleagues from the School Network and the Polish Hub) participated in the European Commission-lead event on Promoting education, training and skills across the bioeconomy, aiming to encourage the exchange of good practices among various bioeconomy stakeholders. The event addressed Action 2.4 of EC’s bioeconomy strategy: developing the new education and skills needed to support new and emerging bioeconomy approaches, particularly with regards to higher education, vocational education and the development of entrepreneurship programmes.
Several initiatives were presented in the first half of the programme. We heard very interesting presentations from active bioeconomy initiatives, among which:
The second half of the programme was organised in a World-Café format. During this part, participants were split in groups and encouraged to discuss around four thematic areas of bioeconomy: agriculture and forestry; food systems; seas, oceans and inland waters; and bio-based innovation systems. In particular, participants were asked to identify what specific skills profiles are needed for the bioeconomy workforce of today and tomorrow, what are the barriers in developing these skills and how these barriers can be addressed.
It was interesting to hear that a lack of collaboration between relevant stakeholders and insufficient teacher training and awareness of existing opportunities were among the main barriers of developing relevant skills for bioeconomy identified by groups, regardless of the thematic area discussed. With regards to the skills needed in bioeconomy, participants agreed that a good balance between hard skills and transversal skills is needed, with soft skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, entrepreneurship, wholistic/systemic thinking, critical thinking – being repeatedly mentioned.
It was instructive to see how relevant the BLOOM educational activities are in the context of bringing bioeconomy in schools and raising the awareness of young people towards the present and future opportunities provided by bioeconomy. Developing the BLOOM School box is an important first step – our challenge is now to make sure that teachers across Europe are informed about the importance of bringing bioeconomy in their teaching.