Teacher training in technological-vocational education: International perspective

December, 2021

Dr. Barak Bar-Zohar is a teacher education information scientist and Masa information portal editor at The Mofet Institute. 

Dr. Liat Josefsberg Ben-Yehoshua is the manager and chief editor of the Academic Information Center at The Mofet Institute.

Technological-vocational education (TVE) can positively influence students' digital competency, employment possibilities and career trajectories.
Due to rapid industrial, scientific and technological advancements, technological-vocational (TV) teachers around the world must be comprehensively trained for pedagogic excellency, patience to deal with difficult students, professional experience and up-to-date knowledge.
Thus, enhancing and empowering the relations between academic institutions, particularly those who train teachers, and the employment market could ensure the quality and proficiency of TV students, teachers, trainers and lecturers (Bin et al., 2020).

The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (EMER) is considered one of the most successful education entities in the world according to PISA tests and OECD quality indicators.
The EMER includes 650 education institutions for pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary education which are separated into three major educational sectors: General, VT and extracurricular (NCAA, 2021; OECD, 2020).
VTE training is performed in professional and academic institutions, supervised and evaluated by the EMER and considered crucially important for the development of the labor and industrial markets.
The EMER is in charge of VTE's teacher recruitment, curriculum revision and professional development.
The most popular subjects in Estonian VTE are architecture, engineering and manufacturing (Cedefop, 2021).

California (United States)
California Department of Education is comprised of several public and private organizations that provide educational services for elementary and secondary school and higher education.
The field of VTE training is supervised by the California Community Colleges system.
In the last 40 years, there has been a significant decrease in the total number of VTE training institutions in the United States (US), as the number of universities that propose VTE training programs declined from 203 in 1970 to 32 in 2018 (Gordon & Iselin, 2017; Volk, 2019).
Only 15% of the VTE training institutions in the US which were active in 1980 still exist.
Furthermore, some of those that kept operating struggle financially and provide meager numbers of annual graduates.
In addition, out of 46,730 VTE teachers in the US, about 5% leave the profession each year (2,330 in average).
Consequently, the burden of teaching falls upon the current generation of teacher as well as novice teachers who enter the profession (Greene, 2016).

VTE training in China is considered the world's finest and largest, with over 20,000 schools and about 30 million learners (Meng et al., 2013).
The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China decided to improve the quality of VTE as a national goal, and succeeded doing so by reinventing VTE institutions as prestigious and highly desired.
Still, many potential candidates refrain from VTE studies due to the following:
1) VTE studies are relatively expansive;
2) VTE might prevent advancement of potential candidates into higher education;
3) VTE draws a significant proportion of special education students (OECD, 2016).

The OECD ranks Netherlands' Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (MECS) as the ninth in the world.
MECS offers VTE trajectories for middle and secondary schools and combines theoretical studies with practical and professional experiences, as well as core subject such as art, history, language and sciences.
Around 60% of Dutch high school students attend VT schools or at least a VT course (OECD, 2021).
MECS sets the national goal at improving the field of VTE training, upon realizing that VTE students show discontent and disappointment from their course of studies, in comparison to general education.
Concurrently, VT school principals claim that TVE beginning teachers' performance is insufficient.
Therefore, the qualifications for both VTE candidates and VTE instructors were raised, while the latter must pass numerous professional, pedagogic and didactic entrance exams (Cedefop, 2020).

The Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland (MECF) allows 8th graders to choose between VT and general education, while both options enable them to proceed into higher education.
VT education is supervised by municipal and regional authorities, which are a sub-part of the MECF (Korhonen et al., 2020).

Ontario (Canada)
Canada's education system is composed of 13 provincial education ministries.
In Canada, the VTE is considered an important educational career trajectory targeted at strengthening local economy by training graduates to the 21st century market.
VTE begins at as early as pre-school and proceeds throughout all stages of education (Alvarez-Galvan et al., 2015)

TVE in Israel is considered prestigious, but also complex and multi-faceted.
Unfortunately, many TVE lecturers do not hold a teaching certification, lack professional experience and face difficulties dealing with struggling students.
Concurrently, academic departments suffer from manpower shortage and out-of-field teaching.
As a result, the number of TVE applicants decrease annually and TVE students and lecturers show discontent and lack of commitment (Binet, 2020; Landman, 2017).

Different countries direct, evaluate and supervise TVE in various ways.
Despite global trends, each country maneuvers in its' own climate, faces unique challenges and operates according to certain domestic relations.
Most countries acknowledge the importance of developing the field of TVE.
Therefore, they tend to invest financially, build advanced infrastructures, enrich the existing resources, conduct quality control, send lecturers to professional development and maintain the ties between TVE institutions and industrial corporates.

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Landman, L. (2017). From early learning to workforce: The STEM pipeline in Israel (Report). Sheatufim. http://www.5p2.org.il/wp-content/uploads/STEM-DOC.pdf
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Volk, K. (2019). The demise of traditional technology and engineering education teacher preparation programs and a new direction for the profession. Journal of Technology Education, 21(1), 2-18.     

Updated: Jun. 13, 2022