Historically, industrialization has been critical for economic growth, development, and poverty reduction. Yet in many low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) industrialization has not materialized and some are seen as prematurely deindustrializing, without ever having industrialized at all. While some pockets of services and agricultural sectors offer the possibility of productivity that leads to extensive structural transformation of economies, historically structural economic transformation has largely been achieved through industrialization. Industrialization is also seen as key to creating more and better jobs—a focus for all LMICs. One of the defining challenges for LMICs as the world moves towards carbon-free energy, more careful stewardship of the environment and sustainable production, is to combine these with economic growth that creates employment, raises standards of living and reduces poverty while leaving no one behind. This is the essence of a just transition where some sectors will decline, others will grow, and many will transform through new technologies, modes of production and work. Skills, occupations, and jobs will be transformed or substituted, some will disappear and new ones will emerge.

Important Dates 

Abstract Submission
Closing: Closed

Abstract Acceptance Notification
Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Full-Length Paper Submission
Saturday, 15 April 2023

Final Registration Deadline
Wednesday, 30 April 2023

Lack of skills is often seen as a key hindrance to productive workplaces. But causality between skills and productivity is complex and even more daunting when the greening of enterprises and the transformation of processes and workplaces must simultaneously meet productivity and carbonneutral production goals. The complexity of managing industrial policy as well as company-level transformation requires ‘learning by doing,’ as foregrounded in literature on economic development. Research that is influential on ‘skill formation systems’ through which skills development and lifelong learning take place shows that the ways in which companies engage with formal vocational education training, as well as the nature of training that happens inside companies, is embedded in a complex mix of economic, political, social, and cultural factors. To-date the research has been shaped by researchers in wealthy countries of the global north, and has been largely historical.

Policy makers and researchers in LMICs need better analysis of the factors shaping skills in a rapidly changing world of work, as well as the potential levers for improving both the ways in which skills are developed and utilized to support industrial transformation and growth—bearing in mind that many of these levers are not to be found inside of education institutions and systems. This challenge is made more complex by the need for structural transformation countries need to undertake in the transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies, and that is located in an analysis of the ways in which work is changing.

The Skills for Industry research team, of which the REAL Centre is part, is an international research team currently analyzing data from five years of research in two African countries (Ethiopia and South Africa) and four Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Commencing in 2017, and concluding in 2023, the aim of the research has been to explore the factors that enable vocational skills development programmes to support industrial transformation, inclusivity, and growth in LMICs. The Skills for Industry project coordinated  by the Zurich University of Teacher Education (PHZH) is funded through the r4d programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss National Science Foundation. The ILO has been leading research on just transition over the past decade, starting from the understanding of skills and jobs for a green economy and, since 2016, under the more encompassing “Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”. It works with countries in all regions to support the identification and implementation of just transition pathways, through research, technical advisory services, and development cooperation projects.

We are grateful to the organizations who contributed additional funds: 

The Skills for Energy in Southern Africa (SESA) project is an intervention funded by The Swedish Government and implemented by the ILO and the Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC). The project promotes an in-depth approach to skills development in renewable energy, energy efficiency and regional energy integration and it is expected to strengthen KGRTC’s capacity as a Centre of Excellence for energy training in the region and significantly contribute to increasing the number of skilled power technicians, engineers and managers across the 16 countries of the SADC region. The project is using the Public Private Development Partnership model and as so far resulted in partnerships with public and private sector players with 19 quality courses developed and 277 engineers, technicians, and energy managers trained.

Skills for Industry Project Partners

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