It points out that ‘becoming a VET practitioner is an ongoing journey, not a destination’. That journey involves vocational and educational preparation; a transition to VET; and continuing practice and updating of skills to maintain the dual professionalism that is required to train, assess and respond to the changing needs of industry.
Journey or destination?
It can be said that it has always been a journey to become a VET practitioner, and sometimes, it’s also a tortuous one. In this very recent report by Mark Tyler and Darryl Dymock they look particularly at those transitioning from their industry to become VET teachers and trainers – often starting on a casual basis. They have the industry currency, but can they teach effectively?
As the report notes:
‘Their knowledge and experience can provide rich information on up-to-date
workplace skill needs, thus adding value and quality to the VET sector.’
‘The continuing debate [is] associated with the minimum [teaching] qualifications for VET practitioners and flexibility in entry points to the VET profession indicates that further input into innovative and practical solutions is required.’
And what do new teachers and trainers need?
Mark and Darryl suggest that what they are looking for is ‘a supportive culture, structured mentoring, and RTO supported professional development.’ These are seen as the most effective strategies for starting and keeping industry experts as VET practitioners once they were employed. Paying them what they are actually worth and giving them a career pathway doesn’t hurt either.
Just obtaining and then the need to upgrade their Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification — ‘the qualification required for training and assessing learners’ — is also seen as a deterrent to beginning and remaining in the role, Mark and Darryl point out. It just needs too much effort and commitment by those starting out, the report suggests, so we are losing potentially good teaching and training staff at the first hurdle.
The new review of the TAE package, which an article in the last couple of issues looked at, may be a way forward, with shorter sharper training programs helping to get new teachers and trainers started. In many ways, this is a ‘back to the future solution’ for those of us that have been in the sector for a long time, but is something that needs to be considered now as long as teachers also have access to good induction, mentoring and sound resources and assessment processes they can draw on as ‘newbies’ to the sector. Hopefully, this will be an outcome of implementing the proposed VET workforce development strategy that we looked at in another recent article.
Some recommendations from this new NCVER report
- Recruiting from industry by incentivising industry experts to transition into VET by continually promoting the concept of VET practitioner and assisting industry experts to realise that opportunities exist. It also requires ‘bite size supervised opportunities to enable aspiring VET practitioners to experience the role before committing themselves and without first having to acquire the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment … or a TAE skills set,’ and,
- Enabling transition to the role by ensuring that ‘the requirements and expectations for becoming a VET practitioner are clear from the outset’ and providing both ‘a range of options for working towards a mandatory training/teaching qualification to cater for different circumstances’, and a systematic orientation and support when new VET practitioners commence employment.
Retaining them is critical too, and this means that a supportive culture needs to be built and maintained at provider level and that there are opportunities to continually develop and maintain their industry and pedagogical currency. This needs strong notions of collegial practice on the part of teachers and trainers.
The publication also includes a literature review as a support document. This is worth a look too.
One of the recent presentations at the VDC Virtual Teaching & Learning Conference by Kay Schlesinger, an Instructional Coach at Melbourne Polytechnic, looked at how to empower new teachers for success. She argues that new teachers can have it tough. She suggests that what’s needed is good induction, effective mentoring, a good connection with their teaching team, quality teaching resources, knowledge about their learner cohort, skills in using learning technologies, help with planning their teaching and finally using reflective practice effectively. They also need to know and understand their organization and its culture.