A short briefing note published by CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, sees the contribution of teacher and trainer PD as an important guarantee of quality.

It maintains that “committed and competent teachers and trainers are crucial to ensuring the quality and labour market relevance of learning” at all sites of VET delivery from schools upwards. In Europe, however, “teachers and trainers are distinguished in terms of function and place of employment.” These places include schools and work-based settings.

The teachers’ roles in responding to emerging needs

As the briefing note points out:

“In the coming years, VET teachers and trainers will be required to help shape quick and flexible responses to emerging needs, related both to the integration of thousands of refugees and migrants into the labour market and to the need to develop basic, digital and entrepreneurial skills. Providing teachers and trainers with access to quality professional development and support is essential to ensuring that both their technical competences and pedagogical skills are up to the highest standards.”

This certainly concurs with the messages we hear in Australia too.

Forms of PD

The note points out that “CPD [Continuing Professional Development] requirements, regulation, provision and monitoring vary significantly across countries.” In many cases there is a legal basis for the CPD, but not all of them define “its amount, duration and expected outcomes.” It might be covered by collective agreements and, in some cases, it is a right or part of the quality assurance process (which probably best describes the drivers in Australia). In some countries “attending CPD programmes translates into wage bonuses for teachers.” In many cases, senior managers and leaders play a role in deciding when a teacher can or should undertake CPD. In other places, the responsibility for CPD rests more with the individual teacher, but they still need to get senior staff approval. Again, not much different to here, but it is interesting to speculate on the extent to which teaching teams play a role in considering what their CPD needs are. Again, it’s the issue where collective and complimentary needs meets those of the individual.

What constitutes CPD can vary too. In most EU countries, “accredited training courses or programmes are considered CPD, whereas there is no validation or recognition of competences acquired while teaching or training.” Some countries, however, recognise ‘self-study’ as a form of CPD. A range of institutions and bodies can be involved in this provision: higher education institutions and universities, teacher training institutes, in-service training institutions, national centres or agencies working in VET, non-state providers of adult education and finally municipalities, companies and teacher unions.

As the paper notes:

“The content of teacher CPD is usually supply-driven and not regulated. As most countries do not monitor or evaluate it, little is known about actual content [BUT] if emerging competence needs are to be covered and teachers equipped with labour market relevant skills and knowledge, much more needs to be done.”

Approaches outlined in the briefing note include professional profiling of teachers and trainers, career schemes for teachers, teacher and trainer training programs on specific aspects to support reforms (This is common in Australia) and work placements for VET teachers in companies.

Finally, and importantly:

“cooperation and partnerships between VET institutions and labour market actors are seen as important in ensuring the quality and relevance of learning. Such cooperation and partnerships are not common practice but several countries … reported on individual cooperation arrangements between VET institutions and companies.”

Eagerly awaited here is the final version of the VET workforce quality strategy under development by the Commonwealth. We highlighted the draft version of it in a VDC News article in September last year.