The making of a ‘trainer’ in Vocational Education and Training

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Objective: to attract attention to, and increase knowledge of, what the key agents between the worlds of education and work are, and what makes them ‘trainers’.

According to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and the European Commission, the making of a ‘trainer’ in vocational education and training includes the following.

Typical common tasks

Typical common tasks of trainers in VET are:

  1. selecting appropriate training methods for developing practical skills in a real work situation,
  2. planning and implementing training, assessing and providing feedback for trainees.
  3. ensure a link between the worlds of work and education.

Beyond conveying vocational knowledge and skills

Nowadays, trainers often need to go beyond conveying vocational knowledge and skills and supporting workers in practical learnings.

This requires enriching the role of an ’instructor’ with:

  1. coaching and mentoring,
  2. providing guidance and
  3. a stimulating learning culture (Cedefop, 2011).

Like it or not, trainers are educationists, not programmers of automatons.

Context of training provision has changed

The whole context of training provision is changing due to structural and systemic developments, including:

  1. demographic shifts,
  2. migration,
  3. globalisation of business,
  4. evolving expectations of individualised and tailor-made offers.

Importance of trainers’ preparation

It is important to ensure that trainers are well prepared to work in such a demanding context and respond to high and diverse requirements.

Increased focus on work-based learning, its quality and outcomes leads to awareness of the key role those who provide formal and non-formal training in companies play. This calls for opportunities for trainers to acquire the right set of competences (capabilities) and be prepared for more complex and challenging tasks.

It is essential that they possess:

  1. high professional, pedagogical and transversal skills and competences,
  2. are aware of markets/work processes, and
  3. are able to participate in professional networks (European Commission, 2012c).

Is the Australian VET System measuring up?

No.

Much of learning is a social process between human beings therefore, like it or not, trainers do and will contribute to development of the whole human being by the human interactions involved in the process – i.e, education. After-all, it is a Vocational EDUCATION and Training System.

In this respect, the VET System has let both Trainers and Trainees down in the form of education they are receiving. This is evidenced from the investigations (dare I say research) by Mairead Dempsey, http://tinyurl.com/mgu68um

The study considered the impact of the changing nature VET policy on trainers of VET. The study explored the proposition that there is a link between VET trainer competency and a high level of non-compliance in the delivery and assessment aspects of the Australian regulatory standards.

Insufficient skills and knowledge to enable trainers

An important conclusion was that the benchmark qualification for training and assessment within the VET sector does not provide sufficient skills and knowledge to enable trainers to confidently adjust to the speed of evolution within the VET sector.

Based on the findings that emerged from the study some recommendations as a way to move forward for government and policy development in Australia include:

1. Review the benchmark qualification Certificate IV in Training and Assessment as a regulatory requirement for trainers in the VET sector.

2. Further study on the link between VET performance requirements and competency and qualification of trainers

3. Place greater emphasis on advanced pedagogical skills for trainers focusing attention on the importance of reflective practice and strategic enquiry for VET trainers.

4. Develop formal programs to educate trainers how to engage and manage different VET learning cohorts, such as those from different cultural background, generational differences and those with specialised learning challenges.

5. Support quality teaching learning and assessment outcomes by focusing on a way of giving recognition for trainer’s ongoing personal and professional development.”

The tragic irony is that the Training Package for VET trainers, instructors, assessors, teachers, facilitators, etc. is not meeting the needs of the Vocational Education and Training “industry” nor those individuals undertaking it [http://www.myskills.gov.au/courses/details?Code=TAE40110]

The answer

The answer seems obvious and very necessary. Urgently.

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Primary reference:

Guiding principles on professional development of trainers in vocational education and training, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, 2011

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