VET teachers’ access to professional development needs improvement

© European Training Foundation

The European Training Foundation (ETF) conducted surveys with vocational education and training (VET) teachers and school leaders of VET institutions to learn more about their status and needs for continued professional development (CPD).  The research entitled “Listening to vocational teachers and principals: Results of the ETF’s international survey 2018” was conducted in nine countries, namely: Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey between 2018 and 2019. This survey followed up a similar survey conducted by ETF in 2015. The report focuses also on initial education, professional qualifications, working time and working hours of VET teachers, their teaching and assessment methods, as well as CPD and tasks of school leaders of VET institutions.

ETF reveals that shortages of VET teachers is not only a problem in OECD countries, but that the countries like Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro are also struggling with an ageing teaching workforce. In Albania, Moldova and Belarus, 60% or more of school leaders identify a lack of qualified or well-performing vocational teachers as a barrier to good quality education and training. Only a minority of vocational teachers believe that their profession is valued in their society.

Around 88% of the surveyed VET teachers have permanent contracts and 86% work full-time. A relatively large proportion of teachers have fixed-term contracts in Belarus (where 44% of teachers have multiyear fixed contracts), Kosovo (31%) and Serbia (22%). The report also investigated the membership of VET teachers in trade unions. Teachers, as public sector workers, are relatively highly unionised. The highest level of membership of teachers in trade unions can be found in Belarus (97%), Kosovo (81%), Moldova (78%) and Montenegro (70%).

Across all nine countries, 64% of vocational teachers have participated in some kind of CPD, 12 months before the survey. 80% or more VET teachers participated in CPD in Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Moldova, however only 48% have participated in CPD (including study visits) that took place in companies. Though the COVID-19 crisis hit the most the VET institutions as practical lessons were suspended, only 34% of the VET teachers participated in online CPD prior to the pandemic.

While the international average of yearly participation for VET teachers in CPD is 30 hours, in the nine countries only 31% of the VET teachers participated in CPD of this required minimum number of yearly hours. 50% of the VET teachers in Serbia, Moldova and Montenegro reached this benchmark. Around a third of all school leaders of VET institutions have participated in at least 30 hours of courses or conferences over the previous 12 months. Participation is particularly high in Montenegro, Belarus and in Albania.

The ETF report presents a number of recommendations to policy-makers e.g. to mobilise enterprises to provide work-based CPD for vocational teachers, ensure partnerships between universities and VET schools for CPD of vocational teachers and link expertise and research, as well as to improve teachers’ collaboration and in-school mentoring.

As ETUCE has been requesting to make CPD a right for all teachers, we welcome the fact that ETF suggests to policy-makers to define the requirements and entitlements to CDP of vocational teachers and trainers. ETUCE particularly welcomes the recommendations which invite the governments to involve teachers and employers in policy-making, to invest in the learning environment and technology, and to raise the social status of teachers by making salaries and career structures link to support professionalisation. It is important that the report highlights the role of the education trade unions in developing and shaping policies which is not always guaranteed. Therefore, it is questionable why ETF does not recommend clearly to the governments to guarantee effective social dialogue with the education trade unions in policy design and implementation which have an impact on VET teachers’ and trainers’ working conditions, salary, initial education and CPD.

The report is available here in English

Recorded ETF webinar on the report can be watched here