This 2022 synthesis paper published by CEDEFOP points out that “teachers and trainers are at the frontline of VET delivery.” To do their job effectively requires that “they (re)skill and upskill towards future-oriented competences, which they can then pass on to students.”

The Victorian Skills Plan (VSP) and broader initiatives in relation to the VET workforce in Australia are concerned with the development of digital and green skills. Action 9 of the VSP focuses on building the VET workforce. At their last meeting in early October Australia’s Skills Ministers agreed to progress a VET Workforce Blueprint “to support, grow and retain a quality workforce.”

THE CEDEFOP publications

In addition to this synthesis report CEDEFOP published, there are individual country reports that try to offer, for each, “a clear picture of the teaching professionals working in initial VET, and of how their professional development is organised and supported.” In all, these reports cover EU countries plus Iceland and Norway; 29 in all!

The messages

The messages from this synthesis work have a context, and that is “an ageing VET teaching population, shortage of VET teachers, especially young ones, low attractiveness of VET in general and VET teaching in particular.” Sound familiar?

Teachers and trainers have multiple roles

Despite this, the paper points out VET teachers and trainers do a lot of things in Europe that we do here and need to be supported in:

“developing skills and provided with tools to master new technologies, to deliver online and/or blended learning, to work in multicultural environments, to support the smooth integration of refugees, to identify promptly learners at risk of dropping out, support early leavers to reintegrate into education and training, and understand that the changing labour market needs to empower and equip students with skills for the future.”

Teachers and trainers work in different settings

Two major types of European VET trainers are highlighted: school-based and work-based. However, the paper notes an emerging hybrid type of teacher and trainer there, “working in parallel in VET institutions and companies. However, “there are almost no regulations, requirements, specific CPD nor data available yet for them.”

The paper also points out that those work-based teachers and trainers are less well understood and catered for through CPD and policy initiatives that those working in school settings.

Partnerships are important

These are seen as a way of providing real world and current work experience for school-based VET teachers. In some cases, networks and councils are used to help facilitate these links. In others formal contracts between schools and companies can be used.

Teachers and trainers need access to quality CPD

Collectively EU countries are responding to these national challenges by targeting:

“continuous professional development (CPD) quality and flexibility, upgrading of apprenticeship and work-based learning, improvement of VET teachers’ digital skills, key competences and pedagogical preparedness, and increased attractiveness of the VET teaching profession.”

Making sure that the CPD is hitting the mark might be facilitated through needs analyses and recognising the diversity of CPD needs given teachers’ diverse roles, but few countries “link them to evaluation or appraisal as part of the entire CPD process.”

The paper argues that:

“Data collection and analysis present a major opportunity for improvements in teachers and trainer professional development. There is a lack of data on VET teachers and trainers and CPD provision and demand, particularly for work-based settings and hybrid forms of training provision.”

Little is done to assess the effectiveness and utility of the CPD either. This lack of systematic monitoring and impact assessment of CPD provision impedes policymakers in targeting their efforts on future improvements, the paper suggests. The impact of policy is not effectively critiqued either. Again, perhaps, these are some messages for us here in Australia?