COVID-19, Young People’s Health and Well-being, Education, Training and Work Pathways: Co-Designing Scenarios for Young People’s Sustainable Futures

UNESCO-UNEVOC is UNESCO’s specialised network for skills and training for the world of work. UNEVOC@RMIT is a leader in applied research, policy-development, and evidence-based intervention in relation to skills, education and training, and employment pathways in times of digital, climate, and educational disruption. We partner with government, industry, and the not-for-profit sectors to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically:

Our applied program of research is focussed on the following areas: 

  1. Young people, 21st Century capabilities, and transitions in the future of work; 
  2. Building a networked approach to enabling and capturing social impact in TVET; 
  3. Exploring educational ecologies of well-being, resilience, and enterprise.

From this setting, and with our track record and diverse range of capabilities, we are developing a research program to play a role in responding to the challenges that young people will face – both during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the aftermath of the public health crisis.


The world is currently in the grip of a pandemic that is yet to run its epidemiological course. However, the current, exponentially rising human toll is tragic and potentially devastating.

This pandemic is foreshadowing profound social, economic and political crises. Indeed, many parts of the global economy are in crisis, and the variety of government, business and community responses to the crises hint at their scale and possible duration.

Historically – most recently in the context and the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08, and what, for many OECD countries was a Great Recession and a decade of austerity – young people tend to carry a particularly heavy burden in the downstream of crises (Kelly 2017).

The COVID-19 crisis intersects with, possibly emerges from, the climate crisis and the unfolding sixth mass extinction of life on earth. This intersection is further compounded by the education, training and work challenges shaped by the unfolding of the 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

In this context we CANNOT proceed on a business-as-usual course, or pretend that things will just snap back (Morrison 2020) – as if by magic – at some point in the near future.

Aims and Objectives

The COVID-19 research agenda is framed by the following urgent questions: 

  1. How do we use this time productively to produce research informed, place based scenarios for young people’s sustainable futures?
  2. What are the key challenges – in the short, medium and longer terms future – facing particular populations of young people in particular places?

To deliver evidence informed, provocative, and disruptive solutions to these challenges, we will facilitate ‘surprising alliances’ of academic, community, business, Third Sector, and government stakeholders in developing innovative scenarios in relation to identified contexts/situations, challenges, and possible futures (short, medium and longer term).

These scenarios will draw on the experience of the GFC and other recent crises. However, they will try not to repeat the most damaging of those responses: austerity, increased inequality, negative impacts on health and well-being (Kelly & Pike 2017).

These scenarios will provide different partners with a number of short, medium, and longer term options for planning and service delivery.


Scenario Planning

We will conduct a series of workshops based on the principles of co-design and ethical innovation in scenario building – drawing on scenario building frameworks such as the following:

  1. Approaching the question and the time horizon of the scenario project; 
  2. Identifying and ranking of uncertainties and givens;
  3. Describing the fundamental future alternatives;
  4. Calibrating a ‘future compass’ out of the elaborated results;
  5. Plotting scenario narratives for each quadrant of the compass (basic dynamics, actors, conflicts, story lines and titles); 
  6. Reflecting on the outcomes: implications and room for manoeuvre (ETUI 2014).


We plan to develop of a number of different scenarios informed by the research and analysis we bring to the projects, and which we will conduct during the projects.

Scenarios will be developed in collaborative workshops – with stakeholders from industry, government, civil society, and academia – that are informed by, and address the temporal, spatial, and demographic forces and processes that are entangled with the COVID-19 pandemic, with processes of digital disruption and globalisation, and with the histories of the past 30 years which have produced widening health, education and employment inequalities – particularly for different populations of young people in different places.




By James Goring

I am a Research Fellow in the School of Education at Deakin University, and the UNESCO UNEVOC Centre in the School of Education at RMIT University

5 replies on “COVID-19, Young People’s Health and Well-being, Education, Training and Work Pathways: Co-Designing Scenarios for Young People’s Sustainable Futures”

Dear Peter,

I can’t agree more on what you are perfectly proposing. Tons of great ideas and food for thought.

Would you please accept me to be partner?

Thank you very much, I really appreciate your post.

Best regards,


Dr Ahmed Elgeushey Hassaneen, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Technology and TVET Teachers Education, Helwan University, Ex Deputy Minister of Education in charge of TVET, Egypt.


Thank you for such an initiative that is globally relevant.. I would like to participate in the research processes putting into consideration that within my country strategies have been in place to contribute to young people’s employability and sustainability opportunities through TVET. During this COVID-19 pandemic , most sectors in the world of work that have been engaged in Promoting TVET pathways are being affected. I am questioning myself on the way forward with the possibility of some entities struggling to collaboratively participate in knowledge development and hands-on skills training after this situation is over. I do believe through a joint international collaboration from the experiences that we shall share and encounter through participation will broaden our scope of understanding and also help us develop and design strategies that would be applicable and sustainable within our defined contexts. I look forward to being part of the research team.


Dear TVET Experts,

I understand the overwhelming crisis that the global education institutions are facing because of the closer due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I also understand the measures each and every educational institute is taking to reach its students “online” in order to fulfill the minimal educational goals for each study program including TVET. Of course every country in the world has its own online, distance-learning, e-learning and more of these learning programs designed for learners who can’t présent themselves physically in their educational institutes. We all know, however, that most of these e-Learning types of education are Non-Formal mode. We all know also that most of the Formal education systems everywhere in the world are face-to-face learning mode especially TVET. It is acceptable and of course necessary to switch the “impossible” formal, face-to-face education due to the pandemic closer into online, distance Learning. But I’m experiencing somehow a worldwide tendency talking about Online, Distance, and e-Learning mode of Education as if it will be (or hoping to be) the mode of choice for the Future Formal Education!!. So, my questions here are: when Coronavirus is over and sure it will be over sometimes soon, what will be the Education mode for our Formal Education? Should we go back to normal Formal face-to-face Education? Or switch to Online, Distance and/or e-learning Education? Or both (blended) mode of them?.

The last issue is we know that the future “Student’s assessment” especially in TVET will not follow neither the school-based assessment nor the online-based assessment. It will most probably follow the real world-based assessment. So, where we find the future student assessment in all of these temporary and future settings?

With kind regards,


Dr Ahmed Elgeushey Hassaneen, PhD

Professor, Department of Automotive Technology, Faculty of Technology and TVET Teachers Education, Helwan University, Ex Deputy Minister of Education in charge of TVET, Egypt.


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