Teachers in the VET system need better acknowledgment and validation in recognition of the vital role they play in the complex world of vocational and technical education, according to a leading education expert.
Associate Professor Leesa Wheelahan, from the LH Martin Institute for Leadership in Higher Education at the University of Melbourne said VET teachers worked in a wider variety of workplaces, and with a more diverse range of students than school teachers or university academics.
“VET teachers work in schools, private training organizations, prisons, community centres, and online and just about everywhere else,” she said.
“Their students include the long-term unemployed, early school-leavers, those with low level language literacy and numeracy skills, refugees, prisoners, and also apprentices, young people who need a qualification to get started, adults who want to retrain, and highly skilled people who need to update skills. Sometimes many of these people are in the one classroom.”
Associate Professor Wheelahan said despite the skill and complexity of their role in the education sector, there were no awards for VET teachers, and the training required by someone working in the sector was at a low level certificate IV standard.
“All countries are trying to increase their skills and the percentage of the population with post-school qualifications. Australia is no exception. Countries have to do this to remain internationally competitive but also to support social inclusion,” she said.
“Our VET sector has to grow quite a lot over the next 20 years and include more people in education and increase the number and level of qualifications that are gained each year. Australia can’t do this without VET teachers.”
A report by the LH Martin Institute authored by Associate Professor Wheelahan was presented to AVETRA (the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association) this week.
• Higher level teaching qualifications for VET teachers
• Supporting the recruitment of industry exerts by allowing them to gain appropriate qualifications once they commence a VET teaching position (ie, industry experts could not be expected to already have teaching qualifications before they commence teaching)
• A professional representative body for VET teachers
• VET teaching awards to recognise excellence in the profession