Part three in a series reviewing literature and projects in the training and professional development of VET teachers in the use of digital technologies looks at initial training and Continuing Professional Development.
Initial VET teacher training
CEDEFOP (2016) have provided a useful summary of the existing vocational training of vocational teachers in Europe in their Briefing Note on Professional Development for VET Teachers and Trainers.
The teaching profession is regulated in most countries, they say. Qualification requirements are set by legislation on education or VET (Croatia, Latvia, Malta, Austria, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden) or by specific regulations (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Poland, Romania). Some countries have established professional standards or profiles for teachers (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, the UK). Others (Lithuania, Slovenia) have defined specific requirements in vocational training programmes or curricula.
Most countries require tertiary education as entry level to the teaching profession; in some (the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain) teachers need a master degree. In some countries, candidates need to have completed tertiary pedagogical education before teaching (Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia), while in others (the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia, Malta, the UK) this is not the case. In the latter, VET teachers are given a certain period of time to acquire a pedagogical qualification as an in-service training option. In some countries, candidates need to pass a professional teacher examination or get a license (Croatia, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia).
Initial teacher training is well-established across the EU. Most countries offer teacher training programmes and recognised teacher qualifications at EQF levels 5 to 8. Teachers of general subjects are trained in general teacher training programmes and teachers of vocational theory usually have a degree in a professional field such as engineering or hospitality. Some countries have specific VET teacher training programmes (Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden).
In most countries (Belgium-Flemish Community, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Finland and others), initial teacher training includes practice (traineeships) in schools under the supervision of experienced teachers. In some countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, UK-Wales), novice teachers start out on their career with an induction period of up to one year under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
For teachers of practical vocational subjects, lower levels of qualification topped up by professional experience can be accepted. Examples are a secondary VET or master craftsman’s certificate (Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia).
Trainers in work-based settings
The availability of a mentor is often perceived as a guarantee of quality and hence a condition for companies to be accredited as a learning workplace. In-company mentors are mandatory in about half of the countries; these are mostly those with well-established apprenticeship systems (the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia). Some of these countries have recently turned their attention to in-company trainer competences, while (re-)establishing or strengthening various forms of WBL in their VET systems. Competence requirements range from a qualification in the occupation combined with a good personal record, to a qualification in the occupation combined with years of experience in the profession and pedagogical training.
Continuing Professional Development
Continuing Professional development (CPD) provision also varies across countries. In most, accredited training courses or programmes are considered CPD, whereas there is no validation or recognition of competences acquired while teaching or training. Some countries recognise ‘self-study’ as a form of CPD (Sweden), which probably includes also training courses acquired independently by a teacher.
In some countries, teachers can undertake their CPD in companies (Estonia, Slovenia, Finland) while others (the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, UK-England) have developed e-environments for teachers’ professional development and exchange of good practices. Tailor-made courses in the Netherlands complement teacher competences. Different bodies provide teacher CPD programmes depending on the organisation of education and training systems in the countries:
higher education institutions and universities (Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, UK-Wales); teacher training institutes (Cyprus, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia);
- in-service training institutions (Belgium-Flemish Community, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Slovakia, Romania, the UK);
- ·national centres or agencies working in VET (Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia.
- non-state providers of adult education (Estonia, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden);
- VET schools (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Finland);
- Municipalities (Portugal, Sweden), companies (Bulgaria, Italy) and teacher unions (Belgium).
Another source of CPD is through projects. CEDEFOP say that although projects usually cover a limited scope and allow for training of a limited number of teachers and trainers, their outcomes are often impressive and can be useful to others. To reap the benefits of successful projects, these need to be identified and mainstreamed into national initiatives or further developed to allow for knowledge transfer to other sectors or countries. Sustainability plans need to be given proper attention to avoid any discontinuation of valuable initiatives once EU funding stops.