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Teaching professionals and leaders in VET: who are they?

The teaching workforce involved in delivering VET programmes can be divided into different types of occupations. While the titles for professionals working in VET may vary according to the context of provision of VET of each country, four distinct categories can be easily identified in initial vocational education and training (IVET)

It is more important to define the teaching and training staff in terms of function and tasks rather than trying to come to a single term for each group. For more information see here.

Why does the professional development of VET teachers and trainers matter?

Teachers and trainers in VET are key actors to ensure its quality and relevance to today’s demands. They work in the context of innovation, globalisation, rapid technological and societal changes that set challenges to education and training systems across Europe and globally.

Committed and competent teachers, trainers and other VET professionals were acknowledged as key agents for high quality initial and continuous VET in the Bruges Communiqué. Evidence shows they can embrace new challenges and reforms and ensure quality and effective learning experiences of both young and adult learners.

Key European policy documents invite all member states to ensure that all VET teachers and trainers have access to high quality initial and continuing professional development and support in order to contribute to, among others:

  • implementing new VET curricula;
  • strengthening links between education and the labour market;
  • providing more and high quality apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning;
  • co-shaping quick and flexible responses to emerging needs (e.g. the migrant crisis);
  • applying the common European transparency tools.

It is essential that teachers and trainers have opportunities to develop and keep up to highest standards their technical competences, pedagogical skills and transversal competences (e.g. digital, intercultural communication, and others).

What type of challenges VET teachers and trainers have to face?

Many teachers and trainers face, to a varying extent, similar challenges. Depending on the sector and level of VET, Cedefop research has identified the following main challenges:

  • With the advancement of digitalisation, methods and means of teaching and learning are changing fast. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the learning process could generate new insights into how learning happens, but it also implies new roles for VET teachers and trainers and poses important ethical questions to education and training institutions.
  • With the expansion of work-based learning and apprenticeships in companies of different sizes, new flexible learning pathways are created. There may be an increase in the need for hybrid professions – teachers and trainers who work in both VET institutions and companies; a need for closer collaboration between VET teachers and trainers; and with mentors and career counsellors to support and guide learners.
  • With a focus on the learning outcomes approach, VET teachers and trainers have greater involvement in development and implementation of education and training reforms, especially in relation to curriculum design and in deciding on appropriate vocational pedagogies.
  • With migration and international mobility learning environments are composed by ever more heterogeneous groups of learners with greater diversity.
  • With ageing population and lifelong learning becoming an imperative for all, VET teachers and trainers have an important role in empowering individuals to undertake learning for upskilling and reskilling in flexible programme structures.
  • With changing and emerging jobs and great uncertainty about social, political and environmental developments, VET teachers and trainers have the additional responsibility of teaching key competences to foster the social responsibility and civic engagement of learners, as well as to support their personal growth and convey human values.
  • With relatively low social status, wages and working conditions, attracting competent people to the teaching and training profession represents a challenge, as well as providing the conditions and supporting them to remain committed and competent throughout their teaching/training life. Understanding teachers and trainers’ well-being and job satisfaction is crucial.

In all these contexts (initial and continuous VET as well as adult learning), teachers and trainers to fulfil their multiple roles, arrangements must be in place to help them become familiar with modern pedagogical and adult learning approaches, as well as to equip them with the right mix of skills and experience they need to deal with current and emerging needs.

The work of Cedefop

Cedefop supports the European Commission, member states and social partners to implement European strategic objectives and policy priorities concerning the role and professional development of VET teachers and trainers. Cedefop in particularly:

Cedefop activities address the following thematic areas:

  • VET teachers and trainers’ well-being and job satisfaction;
  • Attractiveness of the teaching profession;
  • Professional development of VET teachers and trainers;
  • The role of VET teachers and trainers in building stronger bridges between schools and businesses;
  • Designing Inclusive (work-based) learning environments;
  • Using innovative and learner-centre pedagogies in VET.

Cedefop tools for VET practitioners

To provide learning providers with practical support, Cedefop launched the VET toolkit for tackling early leaving in May 2017 and its updated edition in 2019.  The toolkit is designed to:

  • help young people at risk of becoming early leavers to remain in education and training and to acquire qualifications;
  • help early leavers to reintegrate into education or training and the labour market.

The toolkit aims to help VET practitioners to tackle early leaving at every stage, from identifying learners at risk, to support the reintegration of early school leavers.

How can I get involved with Cedefop tools for VET practitioners?

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Irene Psifidou