Innovation starts with innovative teachers! A comparison of recruitment and training of VET teachers in Switzerland, USA and CanadaVon:
Keller, Anna; Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Berufsbildung EHB, Schweiz
Barabasch, Antje; Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Berufsbildung EHB, Schweiz
Innovation is high on the agenda of different actors in government, businesses and civil society due to broad changes such as globalization and the growing importance of communication technologies (OECD 2015). Vocational education and training responds to national economies, is “delivering to national employment needs” and has to be able to adapt to changes of the labour market (Shaw et al. 2016, p.94). VET teachers in their work at the interface between education system and labour market are confronted with the need to prepare their students to contribute to innovation in products and processes within trades as well as being able to use new media and technologies. Teachers are also confronted with changing expectations of young people and societies towards the ways in which they prepare their students for the labour market (Hensen-Reifgens and Hippach-Schneider 2015, p.17). The field in which they teach might have substantially changed since they have initially learned working (or teaching) in the domain. How do vocational teachers manage to keep up with contemporary developments of the labour market? How do they manage to integrate new developments in their teaching to be able to prepare learners to work in a domain as it is in present? This study draws on a comparative analysis of different (national) strategies focusing on the preparation of VET teachers, so that they can be innovative in their teaching and prepare students in a way that enables them to actively contribute to innovations at the workplace.
In general not much knowledge about the ways in which VET teachers are prepared for their jobs by training and through their work experience is available. Since VET is commonly interlinked with local and national labour markets, “VET is nationally focused like no other form of education” (Shaw et al. 2016, p.94). Accordingly, it is difficult to make generalizable statements about VET teachers and it is not easy for VET institutions to collaborate in research on a global scale (Shaw et al. 2016, p.99). In the contrary to research on VET teachers in a specific country (e.g. for Germany Hensen- Reifgens & Hippach- Schneider 2015), research that refers to VET teachers in several countries is able to identify more general characteristics of VET teachers (education), for example ‘main types of VET teachers’, ‘basic models of teacher recruitment and training’ or ‘main categories of VET teachers’ (Grollmann 2005, Grollmann 2008). The aim of this study is to identify structures related to enabling VET teachers to keep up with innovations at the labour market. The study shows what kind of structures are in place in Switzerland, the United States and Canada that enable VET teachers to keep up with contemporary developments at the labour market, how they differ and the resulting requirements for VET schools and VET teachers. Strategies for VET teacher development are found in three different areas: ‘teacher initial and further education’, ‘Institutional strategies for teacher training’ and ‘recruitment patterns’. In the study national policies and guidelines regarding VET and VET teachers (education) in Switzerland, the USA and Canada served as resources as well as existing research on the topic. The paper will also present potential features for a policy transfer between the three countries in respect to VET teacher preparation (see also Barabasch and Watt-Malcolm 2013; Dehmel 2011). This includes potential strategies that enable teachers to support innovation at the workplace.