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How to reinvent training at a time of ecological transformation.

Launched last September, the +1 collective met for a third time on December 7, around the theme of training, an essential factor for activating ecological transformation in business. The participants of the collective intelligence workshop worked on innovative devices to develop skills within horizontal and inclusive learning ecosystems, drawing inspiration from both dolphin communities and the wisdom of the octopus, Socrates and Mulan.

85%. This is the percentage - somewhat breathtaking - of jobs in 2030 that do not yet exist today, according to a report by Dell and the Californian think tank "Institute for the Future". This radical development can be attributed in part to ecological transformation, inseparable from skills transformation, explains Fanny Demulier, coordinator of Veolia’s purpose steering committee, evoking a "necessary development of knowledge and know-how, but also of skills". In fact, these "soft", personality-related skills are already considered by 70% of employers to be of equal importance as technical knowledge, she recalled.

This reflection is a continuation of the work carried out within the "+1, for ecology in action" consultation prototype, initiated by Veolia in partnership with Usbek & Rica and the REcyclerie. After the first two sessions - on September 14 and October 12 - where the members of the collective developed systems for making decisions enriched by feedback from all stakeholders, they wondered this time how to support this disruption of businesses and skills effectively, to drive ecological transformation.

Training, an individual and collective experience for a change of global perspective

But what skills are we talking about? From the most consensual "open-mindedness" to the contradictory "pragmatism" and "utopia", the members of the collective proposed an array of words to answer this question, illustrating the complexity of the task to be accomplished. One thing is certain: education is a key driver in ecological transformation because it "Shapes our mental map, the way we see the world and act on a daily basis", underlined Matthieu Dardaillon, president and co-founder of Ticket for Change, a school that trains agents of change

To initiate the ecological transformation, the skills to be acquired are both "technical" and "behavioural ", he explained.

In the future we will need to know how to build a climate strategy, manage eco-design, do sustainable finance, but we will also have to develop systemic thinking, critical thinking and empathy." An approach that leaves plenty of room for what "Deeply drives individuals". Because it is not simply a question of adding an additional skill, but of "completely changing your view of the world", insisted Matthieu Dardaillon.

Matthieu Dardaillon

An approach to which Olivier Carlat, director of training and social development at Veolia, wanted to add a strong social dimension. "The ecological transformation, which is connected to the digital transformation, will impact employment, in particular newcomers to the labour market and low-skilled professions", he argued, taking the example of the increasing automation of waste sorting centres, which reduces demand for sorters. Hence the importance of ensuring that "this ecological transformation is inclusive" and of making it "an opportunity for social transformation. "

At least this will be the philosophy of the future ecological transformation school launched by Veolia, "to prepare future professions and anticipate the needs for reconversion and training in the new skills required to respond to the environmental emergency". "The objective is to have a learning ecosystem", explains Olivier Carlat. The question of attractiveness will also be key:

Not all of these professions are well known, and can be connoted, such as working on waste recovery.

Olivier Carlat

A simmering of ideas 

After this introduction, it was up to the members of the +1 collective to imagine new ways of training, adapted to the challenges of ecological transformation. Based on the model of the first two sessions, 10 sub-groups were formed to work on 5 themes:

  • Knowledge and know-how: what essential common knowledge is needed in order to activate this ecological transformation?
  • Know-how, together: what change in behaviour do we need to adopt towards ourselves, towards the collective and towards the planet? 
  • Reconversions, new professions and attractiveness: how to start this transformation without it being a burden. 
  • Educational engineering: if the classroom is no longer the only suitable place to train, what are the other places and ways to organize training today?
  • The company and its ecosystem of learners: how do you train without leaving anyone behind, whether they are the least able or the least interested?

As pointed out by Max Mollon, teacher, researcher and creator of design fiction workshops, "Training is often represented in a homogeneous way, through the model of the classroom, which leads us to always think of training in the same way.

The whole challenge will therefore be to imagine innovative training systems, to drive a real transformation of knowledge, know-how and interpersonal skills, in order to implement the changes that our societies need.

To find other ideas, the participants, representing the various stakeholders of Veolia (Employees, Customers, Shareholders, Society and Planet), were able to draw inspiration from the maps provided to them proposing solutions inspired by fiction, existing training or bio-mimicry.  To learn how to learn in a group, why not put yourself in the shoes of the dolphins of Shark Bay in Australia who teach each other to use sponges and to shake seashells when hunting, for example? Renowned for its curiosity and its unparalleled sense of observation, the octopus has also served as a source of inspiration for several workshops. Others have let themselves be guided by the energy that drives Mr. Keating, the unconventional teacher from the film Dead Poets Society (1989), by the maieutics of Socrates, which involves making others "give birth" to ideas rather than teaching them, or by the life of Mulan, whose approach of learning in the skin of another - in this case of a man - proved to be particularly effective.

Transforming businesses into (self) learning ecosystems

Driven by these ideas, many of the working groups suggested levelling hierarchies in order to bring about the emergence of real training ecosystems.  One of the workshops imagined a "self-learning community in continuing education" bringing together representatives of a company in a variety of ways. A horizontal alternative to "an elite that decides on the challenges of training in a "top-down" manner". In the same vein, a group put forward the idea of bringing together people motivated by the challenges of ecological transformation from all hierarchical levels within a "circle of opinion leaders", trained to disseminate and enrich the organisation’s environmental policy.
This philosophy also lends itself to the recruitment phase: to facilitate the transformation of professions and the emergence of new knowledge and skills, why not set up an "employee recruitment agora"? This body would be democratic and include the whole team - because it is this body that is very often appointed to train newcomers - to select candidates to hire on the basis in particular of soft skills, that we would evaluate through games.

The importance of moving beyond theoretical notions has also been highlighted on several occasions. To support the workers of a water treatment plant that’s adapting its practices to produce biomethane, one of the groups offered an immersion course for a team in an unconventional environment - why not a diving course, for example - to learn in a group setting and strengthen relationships, but also restore confidence in the face of a change that may cause worry. 

This third session does not indicate the end of the collective, on the contrary. A meeting is set for Tuesday March 29, at the REcyclerie, to present the final deliverable, a logbook which will recount the work carried out during these sessions accompanied by a deployment kit, allowing anyone wishing to do so to draw inspiration to replicate this device in their own context. On this occasion, the outcome of this system will be presented in order to broaden the movement launched by the +1 Collective, but also to go into greater depth on these issues of co-creation between stakeholders from various backgrounds to drive ecological transformation.