3 Effective Ways to Support Teachers in Vocational Training

3 Effective Ways to Support Teachers in Vocational Training

  • Arya Vishwaroop
    Arya Vishwaroop

Introduction

Vocational training, also known as Career and Technical Education, prepares its learners for jobs based on practical or manual activities, traditionally non-academic and related almost exclusively to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation, which is where the term is derived from. It is also sometimes referred to as technical education, as the learner develops a certain degree of expertise in a particular group of techniques or technology.

Vocational education and training, popularly known as VET, can play a vital role in the process of recovery from the pandemic as well since it can equip young students and adult learners with the skills that the labor market requires. VET can contribute to re-skilling workers for growing for emerging occupations and sectors, ensuring that employers donโ€™t encounter skill shortages, and in tackling youth unemployment. At the same time, the VET sector also faces many challenges since practical learning is difficult to organize when schools were closed and employers reduced work-based learning opportunities.

Why Teachers & Leaders in VET are the Need of the Hour

Teachers and leaders in VET are essential at this juncture in ensuring that it can effectively contribute to the recovery and learn from the challenges faced during the pandemic. Often referred to as a โ€œdual professionโ€, teachers in VET need both pedagogical skills as well as industry knowledge. With the ongoing recovery of the economy coupled with the ongoing structural changes in the labor market, VET teachers must keep themselves up to date with the realities of the workplace so they will be able to develop and teach the right skills to their students. Along with this, they also need to adapt to changing teaching and learning environments, including the increased use of digital technologies. Leaders of VET institutions can also play a key role in that they can support teachers in their effort to keep their skills and knowledge up to date, by:

  • Offering them opportunities for professional development
  • Guidance on the integration of technology in teaching
  • Strengthening the ties with the world of work.

Tackling the Teacher Supply Shortage

VET teacher shortages are mostly due to the limited attractiveness of the teaching career. Poor management of VET institutions, the lack of career development opportunities, and high workloads can also have an effect on job satisfaction, which in turn negatively affects VET teacher retention. If incentives and support are provided before and after becoming a teacher, it can help bring more teachers to the vocational training fold and retain them as well. This can be especially important to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of teachers in vocational training in areas affected by the shortage. Vocational training teachers who receive special support during their careers are more likely to stay in the profession. Attrition rates among VET teachers can be reduced by offering them mentoring and structured induction programs. In the case of experienced teachers, targeted support and attractive career pathways can encourage them to stay within the profession while offering them to move into senior positions or into other subject areas.

Another way to tackle the VET teacher supply shortage is by employing industry professionals. This also has the additional benefit of bringing in updated industry expertise to the mix. Flexible pathways for qualification, training, and recruitment of teachers in vocational training may be required to ease their entry into teaching, especially for those who lack the required teaching qualifications and pedagogical skills. This offers the perfect segway into the next major way to strengthen vocational skills in teachers - teacher education.

Adequate Teacher Education

Making sure that VET teachers have the best set of skills requires proper initial teacher training and education systems and adequate opportunities for professional development. Initial VET teacher education and training hardly equips VET teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary for them to conduct their classes effectively, especially when it comes to emerging and innovative pedagogy. Institutions that offer initial teacher education need to do the following as a rule:

  • Keep their curricula up to date
  • Collaborate with VET institutions to offer practical teacher training
  • Develop research and innovation into pedagogical approaches, among others

Offering work-based learning opportunities in the industry they work in as part of such programs can be particularly helpful for those who have no industry background. After joining the VET teaching workforce, VET teachers must continue to develop their skills in order to keep up with changing teaching and learning environments as well as changing skill needs in the industry. However, they often face barriers in getting the training they require because of a lack of support or incentives, and conflicts with their work schedule. This is yet another perfect segway into the next topic - which is how technology can help.

Pedagogical Innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic underlined the need for strong digital skills, but also, in addition, it became quite evident that strong basic and soft skills are the need of the hour to navigate the changing labor market. Teachers can develop these skills in VET with the help of innovative pedagogical approaches.

Fostering the capability of teachers in vocational education to take advantage of emerging technologies can encourage this. Virtual and augmented reality, robotics, simulators, and online learning can offer cost-effective, safe, and flexible learning opportunities in this field.

However, a lot of VET teachers donโ€™t feel confident when using digital technologies in their teaching practices, which is where Teachmint comes in. Strategic guidance and institutional support for teachers in this field will be possible through digital means only if they are able to understand the software they are using, which Teachmint makes extremely easy. The use of digital devices, high-tech equipment, and technical support can all be aided by the proper understanding of seconded by proper use of online learning, which can, in turn, encourage the use of innovative pedagogical approaches. Training opportunities are vital, as are partnerships and networking opportunities between industries and the VET sector for promoting and improving the use of equipment and materials tailored to teaching and learning needs in the field.

Conclusion

Vocational training is an important component of the education system and making it evolve according to the times is the responsibility of not just the system, but also every teacher who takes part in the system. It is hence imperative to support teachers in the field of vocational training and provide them with all the necessary tools to make their transition into the digital space as seamless as possible.