What VET teachers need for quality and inclusive initial vocational education and training

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On 3 February, the Cedefop Seminar Making excellence inclusive: towards a new Cedefop survey of VET teachers and trainers' took place online in the framework of the new Cedefop project to gather information on teachers in initial vocational education and training. ETUCE and member organisations such as GÖD-Lehrer (Austria), LESTU (Lithuania), and FNE (Portugal) will actively contribute to the upcoming 2-year CEDEFOP project. They shared their VET sector expertise from the perspective of teachers and trainers to this seminar which brought together experiences and ideas for developing the scope of the Cedefop’s project on the survey.

This pilot study, to be initially implemented in Austria, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain, is expected to survey and interview over 150 VET teachers who work in initial VET schools on professional and general subjects to analyse their career progression, well-being and job satisfaction. The survey will also gather information from school principals, 200 company-based trainers of apprentices, and 400 VET students. According to ETUCE, this project can constitute a step forward to address the main challenges in the initial VET sector and to contribute to the implementation of important European policies.

For vocational education to be high quality and inclusive within green and digital transition of the VET sector, the main priorities are quality initial teacher training, adequate salaries and working conditions as well as VET teacher-trainer cooperation. As education trade unions pointed out at the Cedefop seminar, recruitment and retention of VET teachers remain serious challenges due to high workload, inadequate salary and lack of support to young VET teachers. ETUCE reminded the participants that the Cedefop research should also focus on challenges: young teachers earn on average 66% less than senior colleagues with the same level of qualification, and according to OECD teachers’ workload on teaching constitute only 35-60% of their working time.

The importance of supporting VET teachers and guaranteeing fair working conditions and well-being is clearly stated in the Council Conclusion on European teachers and trainers for the future (May 2020), whose implementation is of utmost importance. As ETUCE member organisations report, VET teachers particularly suffer from low-quality initial and continuous training that does not adequately prepare them for the classroom work. In addition, deteriorating working conditions and unfair salaries further undermine the attractiveness of the VET teaching profession.

The Cedefop research needs to support the implementation of  the European Pillar of Social Rights to make quality and inclusive vocational education and training a reality for all learners. Particular attention should be paid to VET teachers and students with special needs and teachers working with them, who according to TALIS 2018 are the most in need of professional training.

The European Social Partners for Education (ETUCE and EFEE) have pledged to the European Alliance for Apprenticeship and they have been strengthening their cooperation to improve the European social dialogue in the VET sector as an important tool to implement quality and inclusive VET.

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