In March this year, the OECD has just published a 189-page reviews titled “Teachers and Leaders in Vocational Education and Training.”
It makes four key recommendations focused on teacher supply, preparation and development, strengthening leadership and promoting innovative pedagogical practices.
High quality VET is pretty important, and its teachers and leaders play a key role
As this OECD Review of VET points out, teachers and institution leaders are at the heart of high-quality vocational education provision. This became even more apparent, the report’s authors suggest, as the impact of COVID bit because of VET’s key role in training, assessing and awarding qualifications for many of the occupations that formed “the backbone of economic and social life during the lockdown.”
As we know, “VET teachers play a key role in motivating students and overcoming barriers to learning.” Likewise, VET’s leaders and managers are important too. They set the mood and maintain and develop the culture of their institutions while managing its resources: fiscal, financial and human. They manage “complex organisations that often involve close ties with local stakeholders and require smart investment in tools and technologies for teaching a diverse set of VET programs.” However,
“VET teachers often face barriers to accessing training due to lack of support or incentives, and conflicts with their work schedule. Similarly, the complex set of responsibilities VET leaders face are not always matched with sufficient access to relevant training opportunities and targeted support.”
The four recommendations
So, how to improve? What needs to be done? These are the OECD review’s recommendations.
Recommendation 1: Ensuring an adequate supply of well-prepared teachers in vocational education and training
A number of countries reported VET teacher shortages. Is this the case here too we wonder? The review suggests making the profession more attractive. This includes the adoption of “targeted incentives and support to encourage participation in initial teacher education and training and professional development that could help attract and retain VET teachers.” They also propose that attrition rates among new VET teachers can be reduced by assigning them to less challenging working environments for their first placements and reducing their teaching or administrative workloads, so they have sufficient time to undertake mentoring and structured induction programs. They need CPD too.
Recommendation 2: Effectively preparing and developing teachers in vocational education and training
The review notes that institutions have to keep their curricula up to date and collaborate with other VET institutions to offer practical teacher training and develop research and innovation into pedagogical approaches. VET teacher training needs should be assessed so that relevant, customised and engaging PD can be provided. And the review notes that:
“Participation can be increased by fostering collaboration between VET stakeholders, including VET institutions, teacher and school networks, local companies, and universities and other associations.”
Recommendation 3: Promoting innovative pedagogical approaches in vocational education and training
The review notes that:
“Innovative pedagogical approaches can improve the quality of VET teaching and foster the development of transversal skills, including soft and digital skills. VET can benefit from the flexibility, cost- effectiveness, safety and other advantages of new technology, such as online learning, virtual/augmented reality, robotics and simulators.”
VET teachers need to take advantage of these new pedagogical opportunities.
Recommendation 4: Strengthening leadership in vocational education and training
The review points out that VET institutions need well-prepared leaders. They have to understand the VET sector and the labour market while also having the organisational and pedagogical leadership skills needed to improve teaching and learning. Leaders should also be supported in their role, especially at the start of their careers.
All sage like advice!