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The affordances of digital technologies are such that when deployed in a context of stakeholders with a
the propensity for change, they will facilitate new opportunities and also create challenges for the technical
and vocational education and training (TVET) sector.
The Data for the Report
International Labour Organization has published a global digitalization of TVET and skills systems report . The data for the report is from semi-structured interviews with experts and practitioners in the TVET and education sectors. In addition, the information is from a desktop literature review. The data is collected from many different countries (Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Slovenia, Turkey and the United States). The data is all together generated by the literature review, case studies and interview transcripts.
Innovation in Digital TVET
The report concludes that there exists increasing evidence that while the digitization of TVET comprises multiple policies and actions at all levels of government, it often does not represent a unitary coherent strategy. Much innovation in digital TVET is institutionally driven. The labour market is following innovation pathways that are not
filtering into TVET curricula or the operations of TVET institutions. Yet digitization is frequently positioned as the driving force behind lifelong learning and flexible learning pathways.
Case studies from the report indicate that technology is also transforming traditional apprenticeships by facilitating more informal variants and internships, and other mentored-learning programmes. The report argues that low-level or mature digital technologies still hold the most potential for transforming the TVET sector in the short term. Digital TVET increases dramatically in cost with increases in the complexity and sophistication of the offering. Moreover, digitization is viewed with scepticism by a significant segment of the educational establishment – and TVET institutions in particular.
Digital Competence of Teachers and Trainers
The report pointed out that the overall digital competence of teachers and trainers will continue to be a key limiting factor in the affordances of digital TVET crystallizing over the next five years. If the affordances of digital TVET are to crystallize, the fundamentals of TVET as a three-way collaboration between employers, students (or employees) and educational institutions have to be improved. The report finds that digital TVET increases the strength of – and need for – these interlinkages. In the process, it is also accelerating the hybridization of tertiary education. Yet despite these advances, the report finds that the ethical implications of digitization are receiving insufficient attention.
The report concludes that digital transformation strategies have a better chance of success if they are developed to support tangible pilots that can demonstrate the practical use of emerging technologies quickly. And inbuilt mechanisms to deploy technology that provides ongoing data on what works and what does not to the sponsoring stakeholders. The report proposes four directions to improve the evidence base informing the transformation of the TVET sector:
- commission studies for countries that are digitally and TVET-ready
- focus future reports on digitization and skills for lifelong learning and meaningful work
- address research gaps on digitization in TVET
- support high-profile case studies that will resonate with the labour market and governments
The report recommends among others that the pedagogical training on delivery, assessment, certification and competence-based curriculum/continuous improvement of trainers in and out of service needs to include exposure to industrial skills and the realities of the workplace. TVET trainers should be required to have prior industry experience.
- Teachers and learners need to be encouraged to work with peers to conceive learning as a social experience.
- Alternative pedagogical approaches remain the domain and initiative of individual teachers.
- TVET and skills systems need to invest heavily in market intelligence and forecasting to prepare and
build courses for emerging digital skills. Data-driven TVET and skills systems are likely to become the norm in the coming years.
- Governments need to be supported to qualify and register all trainers to ensure an adequate supply of
better-skilled TVET trainers who are capable of developing and adapting skills systems that are relevant
to the needs of the labour market in specific contexts.
- Digital credentials for quality assurance and antifraud for regulatory bodies are short-cuts to ensure that third-party training providers provide a quality product.
 The Digitization of TVET and Skills Systems. International Labour Organization 2020
Lucubrate Magazine May 2021
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