Teachers in technical and vocational education and training are critical for successful workforce development

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Students at a vocational education and training center
TVET teachers need a mix of pedagogical and technical training to meet their professional development needs. Copyright: Dana Smillie/World Bank

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) teachers play a crucial role in equipping individuals with practical skills for the workforce, yet their significance is often overlooked and underappreciated.  TVET focuses on providing youth and adults with relevant knowledge and skills for work and life. Thus, TVET teachers possess the most broad and complex mandate among all teaching levels.

TVET teachers need a diverse set of skills and industry knowledge to carry out their various responsibilities and maintain a high professional profile

First, TVET teachers must have the necessary knowledge and expertise in their respective fields and  practical experience in industry. Second, TVET teachers are tasked with teaching both technical and socio-emotional skills while also instilling essential employability skills such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking, which are vital for labor market success. Third, TVET teachers are expected to provide guidance and mentorship, helping students develop a strong work ethic and a positive attitude towards their chosen career path, and support students as they transition into the labor market. Lastly, TVET teachers contribute to the overall reputation and credibility of TVET systems and are central to ensuring the quality of workforce development programs

Recently, the World Bank education team conducted a curated literature review on the importance of TVET teacher professional development and identified policy options to enhance it. Here are some reflections on the topic.

TVET teachers face a diverse set of challenges to be successful  

TVET teachers are diverse in their types and usually teach in multiple settings, including workshops, online courses, and hybrid programs. Within this multifaceted landscape, these teachers operate under fragmented systems where responsibilities are spread across different government agencies, industries, and individuals, as well as under significant resource constraints. Gender imbalance is yet another issue that needs attention, as TVET programs often have gender dominance of students and teachers depending on the occupation (e.g., auto-mechanics vs. nursing). Additionally, TVET teachers frequently cope with unfavorable perceptions of TVET systems.

There are no clear paths for becoming a teacher in TVET. TVET teachers who participate in pre-service teacher training receive pedagogic training rather than practical industry training. On the other side of the spectrum, TVET trainers who come from the industry sometimes lack training in pedagogy. Teaching vocational and technical skills requires a different approach than academic subjects since they must effectively deliver practical instruction. TVET teachers’ needs for professional development are diverse and involve pedagogic tools that enable them to develop not only sector-relevant technical teaching but also socio-emotional and digital skills that are in demand by employers.

A holistic approach is crucial for TVET teacher professional development

To meet their professional development needs, TVET teachers need a mix of pedagogical and technical training. Effective TVET teachers create a supportive and engaging learning environment, understand their students' diverse needs and learning styles, and employ various teaching methods to cater to these differences. TVET teachers need to master interactive and practical teaching techniques, such as hands-on activities, simulations, and project-based learning, to make the learning experience more enjoyable and relevant. Also, TVET teachers need support to develop and implement assessments methods that appropriately measure students' practical skills and competencies.

Moreover, TVET teachers must adapt to changes and revisions in curriculum and teaching methods to remain aligned with the latest industry practices. In doing so, TVET teachers should establish and nurture strong connections with industry partners to ensure the relevance and currency of their vocational training programs. Finally, highly effective TVET teachers develop their students’ entrepreneurship skills and many of their students become self-employed workers.

Offering support to TVET teachers in the various areas mentioned above requires a collaborative effort between educational institutions, industry stakeholders, and policymakers. In addition, creating conducive conditions is a necessary process to ensure sufficient support for TVET teachers, including providing adequate resources, professional development opportunities, and improving their recognition and work conditions.

VET teachers are a cornerstone of formal workforce development systems

Providing support to TVET teachers is critical to ensure successful formal workforce development systems, particularly in developing countries, where TVET systems deal with the most vulnerable student population.  Quality professional development for TVET teachers starts before they enter the profession, with initial teacher education and preparation alongside substantial industry exposure. For this purpose, collaboration with industries and employers is vital. For instance, the World Bank education team has been supporting TVET teachers’ professional development (including specialized technical skills) through the East Africa for Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration (EASTRIP) project.

Also, countries must prepare TVET teachers to teach in a more flexible digital environment, which allows students (particularly, women) to study, work, and cope with home care activities. TVET teachers' education and preparation programs should not be ad-hoc and need to be well-integrated into national professional development programs.

Moreover, it is essential for countries to attract and retain TVET teachers with relevant industry experience. The allure of higher-paying industry jobs can make it difficult to recruit and retain experienced professionals as TVET teachers. At the same time, TVET teaching is sometimes perceived as a less prestigious career path than academic teaching, which can impact their motivation and career progression prospects. Providing TVET teachers with flexibility is essential to ensure they stay in contact with the industry. Strict requirements and intensive and lengthy preparation (or rigid teaching schedules) may prevent good candidates from considering TVET teaching as their profession to pursue.

In conclusion, having high performing TVET teachers is crucial for the success of technical and vocational education and training. TVET teachers must possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and teaching methods to effectively train students, prepare them for the workforce, create an engaging learning environment, and contribute to the overall credibility of TVET. Their impact goes beyond the classroom, shaping the future of individuals and industries.

See the Skills4Dev Knowledge Digest on TVET Teachers here. Special thanks to Halil Dundar, Diego Luna Bazaldua, Laura Gregory, and Laura S. McDonald for their insightful comments to the draft version of the blog.

 

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Authors

Nobuyuki Tanaka

Economist for Education Global Practice, World Bank

Gemma Rodon

Analyst, Education Global Practice

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