May 12, 2023

UN STI Policy Brief: Mobilizing the Technical Workforce for the Sustainable Development Goals

The worldwide engineering workforce is largely unprepared to support the goals of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, but Engineering for Change has a proven solution that we submit as a model to emulate, according to a new policy briefing by experts at E4C and collaborating organizations.

E4C created a workforce development program that trains early-career technical professionals in sustainable development tools and skills. That program is our five-month fellowship. The briefing was published this week online at the site of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which hosts the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum. The policy briefing is submitted to member states and stakeholders working toward the Sustainable Development Goals and includes lessons learned from four years of conducting the E4C fellowship.

Learn more about the E4C Fellowship

“In five to 10 years, [today’s young professionals] are going to be in charge, and this briefing showcases that there are opportunities for young technical professionals to really start taking action,” says Carolina Rojas, a Program Associate at Engineering for Change and co-author of the briefing.

According to the briefing: “The Fellowship program is an example of a model to mobilize an Engineering for Sustainable Development community.” Programs such as ours can deploy digital platforms to extend the reach of organizations and businesses in low- and middle-income countries seeking technical assistance, the briefing states.

Among the points discussed, E4C’s Fellowship is a model for multistakeholder collaboration. Fellows have thus far completed 102 projects with organizations that include universities, nonprofits, multi-laterals, businesses and governments in 20 countries.

The fellowship has identified engagement pathways for early-career engineers that include technology impact assessment, product development and improved technical capabilities. The chart below provides examples.

Workforce development programs that are based on discrete projects, such as E4C’s fellowship, provide a couple opportunities. They build capacity among young technical professionals and they facilitate innovation.

The briefing makes five recommendations.

  • Increase post-educational training for early-career engineers.
  • Promote digital ecosystems to evolve the practice of technical assistance.
  • Strengthen ecosystems to bridge the gap of participation of early-career technical professionals.
  • Engage non-traditional technical assistance stakeholders in policy and regulation.
  • Create avenues for engineers to engage in more traditional frameworks for decision-making.

At its core, the briefing is a kind of call-to-action, Ms. Rojas says. It outlines one method for developing informal educational opportunities with the expectation that other organizations can take the baton and provide similar programs to prepare the upcoming engineering workforce.

For more, please read the briefing:

Mobilizing and Equipping the Technical Workforce for the SDGs through platforms for Interdisciplinary and Multi-stakeholder Collaboration (pdf)

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