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International and regional actors should play a significant role in ensuring the focus of future TVET reform is on developing a policy which facilitates and prioritizes quality, not quantity.
Due to a range of macro-level developments – technological advancement, lifelong learning agendas, demographic shifts – TVET has risen to the top of education policy agendas across the world and demand is growing for the establishment of quality TVET systems.
However, too often, understanding of the sector lacks nuance: equating TVET teachers to general education teachers ignores the fact that many of the challenges they face are intensified in comparison to their general education counterparts –the need to embed new technologies; low status –or are specific to the TVET experience –pressure to collaborate closely with industry and business; demand for responsiveness.
Several international guidelines from the last decade reflect the growing importance of TVET: UNESCO’s Recommendation for TVET (2015) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (2015) frame TVET as being crucial in fostering an economically productive labour force but also in facilitating the personal fulfilment and social cohesion necessary for sustainable futures.
Nevertheless, greater interest in TVET and recognition of its crucial role have not yet led to the development of strong systems across the world. Indeed, particularly in low-income countries, TVET provision is limited, expenditure is low, and teacher and programme quality are inadequate.
Four specific areas of concern have been explored in the paper  called “A Global Overview of TVET Teaching and Training: Current Issues, Trends and Recommendations”;
- Firstly, regarding recruitment and pre-service training, funding holds systems back, as does the heterogeneity of TVET providers and actors within each country and the deficit of research dedicated to profiling effective TVET teachers. As a result, approaches to recruitment and pre-service training tend to lack clear and coherent procedures and fail to prepare trainees for the systems they will be working in.
- Secondly, continuous professional development (CPD) provision is sporadic and ad hoc at best, in developed and developing countries. Again, although the importance of CPD in improving system quality is recognized, there is often a lack of strategic planning in the implementation of CPD programmes and the low motivation levels among teachers limit participation.
- The working conditions of TVET teachers raise concerns about systems across the world. TVET teachers often suffer poorer pay conditions and more precarious contracts than their general education counterparts. Moreover, it is very difficult to gain a good understanding of this situation due to the global lack of data concerning the working conditions of TVET teachers.
- Finally, centralized systems, institutional weaknesses and low stakeholder capacity are inhibiting one of the most crucial aspects of effective TVET provision across the world: social dialogue.
Governments are aware of these issues: teacher and programme quality, improving partnerships with business and industry, finding innovative funding mechanisms and developing the responsiveness of the sector to labour market changes are the top priorities, globally, in national policy debates.
Several recommendations have been made to support governments in pursuing policy reforms in these areas. Most critical is the need to place system coherence, collaboration and evidence-based approaches at the heart of all policy processes concerning the TVET sector.
TVET reform is undoubtedly a priority for many governments across the world. However, the temptation to increase provision without addressing the quality issues at the heart of current systems could prove too strong for some national policy-makers. International and regional actors must, therefore, play a significant role in ensuring the focus of future TVET reform is on developing a policy which facilitates and prioritizes quality, not quantity.
- Rawkins, Christa: A Global Overview of TVET Teaching and Training: Current Issues, Trends and Recommendations, ILO/UNESCO 2018
Lucubrate Magazine Januar 2020
The picture of the top of the article: Chinese worker monitors the quality, by Artwell (Adobe Stock).
The article is the conclusion in the document from ILO/UNESCO: A Global Overview of TVET Teaching and Training: Current Issues, Trends and Recommendations ( Copyright © International Labour Organization and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 2019)