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A study published in 2020 has identified ten forward-looking trends that characterize high-quality, future-focused TVET systems that support TVET teaching staff in delivering the skills required for work and learning. The first trend addresses the changing nature of work. Some trends highlight the characteristics of future-focused TVET systems, and other trends examine key aspects of the quality training and support required by TVET teaching staff.
Need of transversal skills
As digitalization and automation are changing the world of work, demand for transversal and applied skills will most likely grow in the next 10 years. The spread of new technologies and other changes taking place in the world of work redefines what skills workers need to remain productive. While traditional skills will continue to play an important role in the future, new skills in emerging areas, transversal skills such as problem-solving, and cross-occupational competencies in areas such as entrepreneurship will be demanded more frequently.
Collection and dissemination of data
Collection and dissemination of data on emerging skills for planning are becoming critical for future-oriented TVET programmes. TVET systems need accurate and continuously updated information on what these skills requirements are. Data must be regularly gathered and systematically disseminated to TVET institutions and teaching staff. The most important source of information on current and evolving skills needs is the private sector, so TVET systems should actively engage the private sector in their data-gathering exercises.
Results of skills assessment are being used to develop in-service and not so much to reform preservice training. The demands on TVET teaching staff are growing. Teacher and trainers are now expected to possess future-oriented skills, be self-directed learners, and be sensitive and inclusive regarding gender, cultural and learning differences and social disadvantage. To fulfil these high expectations, TVET teaching staff need strong training and support. Future-focused TVET systems have frameworks to deliver pre-service and in-service training, regularly assess teaching staff’s skills and training needs and develop or reform training programmes based on these assessments.
Future-focused TVET systems value industry experience and exposure as part of pre-service training. Quality pre-service training builds teachers’ and trainers’ professional skills and enables reforms to occur. However, pre-service training can no longer be a time-bound academic course leading to a qualification. To provide TVET teaching staff with the practical skills and knowledge needed to prepare learners for the future, pre-service training must include industry experience or industry exposure. TVET teachers/trainers also need grounding inactive, learner-centred pedagogy to build learners’ cross-curricular skills and cross-occupational competencies.
Linking in-service training to career progression increases TVET staff’s openness to adopting new teaching and learning methods. Continuous professional development enables TVET teaching staff to keep up to date with new developments in their subject field and the world of work. It is essential in a rapidly changing labour market, where skills requirements change regularly. To overcome teachers’ and trainers’ reluctance to undergo in-service training, long-term future-oriented incentives are needed. Certification of teaching staff competencies linked to career progression can create a pull for in-service training.
High-quality in-service training focuses on industry exposure, transversal and applied skills, and pedagogy as much as content. The curricula used to train TVET teaching staff must be regularly updated to consider the skills of the future. Transversal and applied skills such as problem-solving and collaboration need to be integral to curricula. Teachers and trainers need grounding in learner-centred pedagogy as much as content to build learners’ practical and applied skills. The mode of delivery needs to incorporate industry exposure to develop teachers’ and trainers’ own practical skills and knowledge. Industry projects as part of training could be a powerful means of providing this.
Responsive TVET systems
Responsive TVET systems ensure that TVET staff receive adequate training in gender-responsive and inclusive methods. To minimise the impacts of global disruptions on disadvantaged and vulnerable learners, TVET teaching staff require training in inclusive methods. They need to know how to deliver TVET using alternative (e.g., digital) formats and implement gender-responsive/inclusive pedagogy, manage cultural/linguistic diversity and teach students with special needs. They also need training in educational psychology and labour rights to build learners’ resilience and ability to cope in an increasingly competitive environment.
Collaboration with the private sector
TVET of the future relies on the private sector as an essential partner within in-service and CPD curriculum. The private sector has core roles in delivering TVET teaching staff training and creating value for it by certifying teachers’ and trainers’ skills and competencies. However, to engage the private sector practically and sustainably, TVET teaching staff training must be aligned with the private sector’s own interests. Examples of delivery models that could bring about such integration include live industry projects and secondment of industry practitioners to training institutes as part of their career growth. Donors and higher education institutions also play important roles in increasing access to and enhancing the relevance of TVET teaching staff training.
Effective stakeholder coordination is seen as a mechanism to improve the relevance and quality of training and professional development of TVET staff. Effective governance mechanisms enable coordinated action by public and private stakeholders across different levels (international, national, regional/local and sectoral) in objective setting, implementation, monitoring and review. However, stakeholder cooperation will only take place in a constructive and sustained manner if stakeholders understand each other’s views and constraints and plan initiatives in a manner aligned with all of their interests.
Mechanisms to engage TVET teaching staff
Mechanisms to engage TVET teaching staff are vital for aligning TVET systems to future skills needs. TVET teaching staff, as the front line of TVET delivery systems, have the complete knowledge of the impacts of policies on TVET learners and what training and support they themselves need to do their jobs and fulfil their career aspirations. TVET teaching staff should therefore be regularly consulted on the decisions that affect them. Strong communication channels between governments, TVET institutions and teaching staff can also lead to more effective policies and improve the responsiveness of TVET systems to evolving skills requirements.
 Subrahmanyam, Gita, Wouter de Regt, Pooja Gianchandani, and Yinglin Huang: The future of TVET teaching, UNESCO-UNEVOC 2020