GREEN READINESS OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING STUDENTS

S. Avsec1, B. Kaucic2

1University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education (SLOVENIA)
2INITUT, Insitute of information technology (SLOVENIA)
The green transition will require the development of a better understanding of the implications of green jobs on health and safety at the workplace. On one hand, measures aimed at environmentally friendly workplaces can help to improve working environments, having a positive impact on workers´ safety and health. In order to shape the future of occupational safety and health in green jobs and inform EU decision makers, Member States’ Governments, trade unions and employers, the European Agency for Safety and Health at work carried out research about the new and emerging risks associated with green technologies by 2020. Considering this research, the Leonardo da VINCI TOI Project STRENGTH (Structuring of Work Related Competences in Chemical Engineering), 2013-1-ES1-LEO05-66726, developed green matrix of key green competencies areas for chemical engineering, namely: agriculture; biotechnology; environmental, health and safety; food science, and pharmacy. As the most important area, the environmental, health and safety (EHS) was detected.

Several health and safety aspects were detected which could decrease green economy benefits and scale:
a) Potential for exposure to unknown hazards from new processes and materials,
b) Substitution of chemicals for environmental reasons could result in greater risks to workers,
c) Chemicals obtained from renewable sources can still be toxic, and
d) Potential risks at the recycling stage.

By mapping existing competencies in industry, STRENGTH developed 10 courses in EHS area aimed for vocational education and training at national and international level using mobility scheme procedures. Courses allow systematically development of three main cognitive components: knowledge, skills and wider competences of critical thinking and decision-making by considering the European qualification framework (EQF) and credits system (ECVET) for vocational education and training at EQF level 6 and 7. All ten courses comprise together the 34 European credits and allow achievements described with 19 competences for knowledge component, and 14 skill competencies which are condensed in 8 green abilities. All cognitive structures could be obtained both at level 6 and 7 of EQF.

Importance of green competences and skills was assessed by surveying chemical engineering freshmen and students in last year of the study. Beside this, students' achievements in chemical engineering were compared with their self-assessment of green competencies obtained during the study.

Green chemistry is a relatively new area of science and technology aimed at improving chemical processes and thereby avoiding negative impacts on human health and the environment. It is based on careful selection of raw materials for the production of various products, excluding the use of hazardous substances. The results of the surveys to assess the readiness of chemical engineering students to follow the principles of green chemistry are given in this paper.