Education is at the heart of human progress and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It enables people to build better lives and equips business and society to address our world’s interconnected issues and opportunities.
A new report launched today demonstrates how business can help people gain the skills and knowledge to advance sustainable development, navigate the future of work and create a more prosperous society. Following recent interviews with educators and companies, the report shares insights and recommendations for business to promote education and training for sustainable development. The project was led by a consortium of partners, including Business Fights Poverty, Pearson, Arizona State University and PRME, an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact.
Business has a strong incentive to invest in strengthening skills and knowledge for sustainable development. Companies’ performance and progress on the SDGs are increasingly linked to opportunities and risks driven by environmental and social trends. Skills for sustainable development are vital for business leadership, innovation and a productive, adaptable workforce. Companies can gain a competitive advantage by equipping their employees with the skills and knowledge needed to make the most of the opportunities ahead.
Contributions from companies including Starbucks, Levi’s, Credit Suisse, Anglo American and others show how business is investing in developing future leaders and engaging employees through shared solutions for business and society. These examples describe how business can support educational programs and experiential learning, build employees’ skills and knowledge, and partner with community stakeholders.
The report offers five recommendations for business:
Collaborate with partners to advance education for sustainable development and connect it to job skills and career paths. Companies can engage and build partnerships beyond business schools across other departments and programs. They can help integrate practical sustainable development issues and insights from business into course and program design, instruction and experiential learning opportunities.
Invest in employee training and education for sustainable development. Companies can make sustainable development training central to leadership development programs. They can motivate employees through using active learning approaches and exploring real sustainable development examples that connect employees with the company’s purpose and values.
Share business learnings on what works – and what doesn’t – for sustainable development. Educators, businesses and international organizations all need more widely-shared examples of practical business experience, and the lessons that emerge from them. Companies can be more open about providing insights from tracking successes and failures in the company’s sustainable development-related initiatives.
Highlight the business demand for sustainable development skills and knowledge. Business leaders can show HR teams, recruiters, policymakers and academics that sustainable development skills and knowledge are priorities for business. Clear signals from business will help education providers prioritize learning for sustainable development.
Educate and engage other stakeholders on sustainable development, from suppliers and investors to policymakers and customers. Companies can help to demystify sustainable development through portraying it as a normal part of business life. Businesses can benefit from showing how action on sustainable development is central to their everyday work, and essential for a flourishing society, inclusive economic growth and human progress.
Business, educators and learners all have a stake in the future of work and job skills. The ability to adapt to the changing needs of the economy and workforce is closely connected to progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The role of business in education and training for sustainable development plays a significant part in delivering on this ambitious agenda.