This year INCLUDE joined the Solar Hands-on Training and International Network of Exchange (SHINE). In this EU-funded consortium, we are working together with African VET schools and European partners on greening Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for the solar industry in Africa. As the research partner, we are laying the project’s theoretical foundation. Through literature review and discussions with experts and practitioners, we have gleaned key insights that are shared in this blog. 

Limited access to electricity continues to pose major challenges across Africa, with more than half of the continent’s population having no access to electricity at all. This has huge consequences ranging from healthcare and educational challenges to economic constraints and climate impact, as reliance on unsustainable resources and fossil fuels negatively influences the environment. In light of a  transition to low-carbon economies, solar energy is emerging as a compelling solution for Africa, given its vast solar potential, which is being increasingly acknowledged by key stakeholders. On-grid solar projects are gaining momentum, with capacity expected to triple across the continent in the next decade1.

The growing renewable energy sector is also projected to  provide significant employment opportunities for Africa’s youth, particularly in the solar industry. Unfortunately, a skills mismatch exists whereby young people lack essential skills required for these roles. It is increasingly recognised that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) can play a crucial role in bridging this gap and equipping young people with critical skills for the future of work. 

Greening TVET

National governments and international agencies are increasingly aware of the economic, social and environmental potential of these sectors, particularly in addressing youth unemployment, and recognize greening TVET as a necessary tool in this endeavour.  Approaches to support the ‘Greening of TVET’ are gaining traction in both development and policy circles and are increasingly seen as part of a just energy transition in Africa. This has led to a surge in research and practical applications of greening TVET and offers valuable tools and lessons learned for advancing the field.

Greening TVET

The process of greening TVET aims to facilitate sustainable policies and institutionalize sustainable practices and education in schools, communities and workplaces, equipping individuals with the green skills and knowledge necessary to actively participate in sustainable practices and enabling them to pursue decent work and contribute to the green economy2.

However, systems for identifying, integrating and implementing new green competencies in TVET  are still weak. Only 20% of African TVET institutions regularly conducts national skills forecasts and these forecasts rarely pay explicit attention to the new skills required in a low carbon economy3. The SHINE project aims to address this gap by strengthening the evidence base around green skills in the solar industry in Africa building both on knowledge from theory and practice. Together with VET centres and other partners in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda) and Europe (Spain, Greece and the Netherlands), the consortium aims to gain a better understanding of the demand and supply of (emerging) skills in the solar industry in Africa, learn from best practices and provide the building blocks to develop an innovative capacity building program in Solar Training in Africa. 

5 Key lessons from research 

At the start of the programme, we distilled 5 key insights from literature and conversations with our partners,  policy makers and practitioners working on greening TVET for the solar industry.  

1. Green skills are versatile and transversal. By greening TVET, young people become adept at contributing to a just transition in multiple capacities and across various sectors. This prepares them better for the future of work as they are equipped to apply green skills in many different industries and address environmental challenges from different angles, while also advancing sustainability practices across society. In this light, TVET must maintain close collaboration with the private sector, engaging in forecasting and remaining flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs4.

2. Greening TVET approaches often have a narrow focus. Current approaches are mainly focused on the needs of specific industries, thereby overlooking the potential broader, long-term impact on the entire workforce, institutions and a sustainable society. To spur a just transition and drive a sustainable future requires  a holistic approach to Greening TVET, one that also considers raising awareness and contributing to more environmentally friendly practices across communities and institutions5. 

3. Creating an enabling environment as a precondition for a thriving TVET ecosystem. There are multiple barriers on different levels to greening TVET, encompassing inadequate funding, absence of supportive policies, shortage of skilled educators and equipment, and a lack of awareness among both the public and government officials regarding the economic and climate benefits of the solar sector.  Overcoming these hurdles necessitates a comprehensive, multifaceted, and collaborative effort involving all relevant stakeholders, recognizing the interconnectedness and addressing the systemic barriers to greening TVET. 

4. The African solar industry demands a tailored approach. To ensure TVET curricula match the diverse policies, practical realities, and the predominantly informal labor markets across the continent, it is important that approaches and capacity development is contextualised.  Since the 1960s, TVET education and programming have been heavily influenced by external donors, shaping educational systems, pre-established standards, and qualification frameworks, often building on  the specific skills required by industries in their respective countries. However, these standards have shown to not always be suitable for the  predominantly informal nature of African labor markets and the unique contexts of different countries across the continent6.

5. Ensuring equitable participation is key. In the pursuit of a just transition, it is crucial to ensure that young people, regardless of their background or circumstances, have equal opportunities to participate in TVET for the solar industry. This involves addressing barriers to access, such as spatial inequities , socio-economic and gender disparities, and ensuring that marginalized groups and youth are adequately represented in TVET policies and practices7.  In doing so, we promote an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to gain the green skills necessary to participate in the growing solar industry.  

Next steps

These preliminary findings set the scene for the next steps of the SHINE project, which entail the co-development of national greening TVET roadmaps in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda and context-specific curriculum development for the solar industry.

The INCLUDE team and her partners are looking forward to greening TVET for the solar industry in Africa together!

Greening TVET Initiatives and tools


 1. See RES4AFRICA Foundation. (2023). Africa’s Energy Future is Renewable. Rome.

2. This definition builds on multiple definitions given by UNESCO UNEVOC

 3. Regt & Gianchandani, 2020

4. Langthaler, M., McGrath, S., & Ramsarup, P. (2021). Skills for green and just transitions: Reflecting on the role of vocational education and training for sustainable development (No. 30). ÖFSE Briefing Paper.

 5. ILO (2022): Greening TVET and skills development 

 6. McGrath, S. (2022): Skills futures in Africa. Prospects, 52(3-4), 325-341, and Allais, S. (2023): Why skills anticipation in African VET systems needs to be decolonized: The wide-spread use and limited value of occupational standards and competency-based qualifications. International Journal of Educational Development, 102, 102873.

7. See UNESCO (2021): Technical and vocational education and training for disadvantaged youth, to get a picture of the barriers to TVET faced by marginalized groups.

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