Professional placement programme for a low carbon economy in Europe

A new type of mobility programme designed by Climate-KIC is nurturing the multi-skilled practitioners needed to meet the EU’s ambitious climate targets, says PIP programme architect Jon Bloomfield. 

Two years after its launch, Climate-KIC’s Pioneers into Practice (PIP) programme is getting great feedback, with 61 per cent of participants saying it had furthered their overall understanding of the low carbon agenda, and 63 per cent reporting they’d gained specific insights from their PIP placements.

Operating in six EU regions – Central Hungary, Emilia-Romagna, Hessen, Lower Silesia, Valencia and West Midlands – Pioneers into Practice starts from the position that making the transition to a low carbon society and meeting the EU’s 20-20-20 climate targets are tough calls.

‘There’s no magic bullet,’ says programme co-designer Jon Bloomfield. ‘It demands engagement from all sorts of people at all levels of society. It calls for a new breed of multi-skilled pioneer equipped in the thinking and practice of low carbon transition.’

Cross-disciplinary reach

PIP nurtures multi-skilled practitioners using new types of training programme that recognise the breadth of the climate change agenda and the cross-disciplinary capacities needed to confront it. Significantly, it reaches out beyond the student community to attract participants of all ages and work backgrounds.

Says Jon: ‘PIP offers them two placements, at home and abroad, that take them out of their comfort zone. They get experience of another European region, plus a workshop and mentoring element that has real gravitas. It adds up to a systematic innovation programme that’s highly manageable in terms of the time commitment.’

Having got PIP off to a great start, all the regions are looking to ‘up’ the quality of what’s on offer by, for example, fine-tuning the international placements planning and enhancing the mentoring support.

They’re also looking to extend the programme to 200 participants in 2013, rising thereafter, in response to a clear demand for this new type of mobility programme geared to professional development.

Already there are signs that pioneers are scaling up their activities from, say, micro-business to SME. And the potential is there to improve the outlook of employees of larger organisations too.

‘Because we’ve had such good feedback from participants,’ says Jon, ‘there’s a strong case for replicating this model in other regions, or within other regional groupings, to help meet the EU’s climate targets. It’s not just our six regions, after all, that need multi-skilled practitioners steeped in the low carbon agenda.’