Do Occupational and Vocational Learning Practitioners require Academic Qualifications?

BA BOOKS PHOTO FEB 16People with qualifications in trades, such a mechanics, carpenters, electricians, etc. are often utilised as lecturers at TVET Colleges and instructors or trainers at industries that offer training. Some of them are even posted as training managers, assessors, learning materials developers, etc. This is fine seeing that they are the experts with lots of experience in their respective fields. There is, however, a huge difference between teaching and doing. You all know the old joke about those who can, do and those who can’t, teach. In reality the other way around often proves to be even more difficult.

Conducting education and training is a vastly different science from executing a specific trade. Experts in trades often do not know how to prepare learning event plans, develop training materials, and many more. Tragically nobody seems to care. Or is it possible that the responsible people and bodies do not understand that teaching people trades also requires educational methodology? Thinking that the science of occupational and vocational education and training (OV ETD) is simple is not only myopic, but also uninformed. Even though on the same, if not higher level, the educational methodology needed for OV ETD differs vastly from that in use by universities.

OV ETD educators need more than just practical and rather limited training skills. They need to also know the theory and philosophy upon which work integrated learning rests. What is needed is at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational and Vocational Learning which will prepare educational practitioners in both occupational and vocational learning for their jobs.

I identified ten salient fields of knowledge that would at least alleviate the flaws in the quality of learning currently offered in OV ETD. Keep in mind that such learning practitioners, be they facilitators, assessors, training managers, researchers or whatever, should have much deeper knowledge than just outcomes based education and training if they are to pursue a career in occupational or vocational learning.

  1. They need to understand and know how to communicate orally and verbally.
  2. They need to understand and know how to manage OV ETD, including facilitation, mentoring, coaching, assessment and quality assurance.
  3. They need to understand and know how to plan and manage an OV ETD institution strategically.
  4. They need to understand and know how to design and develop assessment instruments as well as how to conduct assessment.
  5. They need to understand and know how to guide and support students.
  6. They need to understand and know the theory of OV ETD methodology.
  7. They need to understand and be able to act as leaders in OV ETD.
  8. They need to understand and know how to conduct quality assurance of OV ETD, including internal and external quality assurance. Internal quality assurance should include moderation of assessment.
  9. They need to understand and know how to plan and execute projects in OV ETD.
  10. They need to understand and know how to design OV ETD curriculums.
  11. They need to understand and know how to develop learning materials for OV ETD.
  12. They need to understand and know how to conduct research in OV ETD.

In closing, practitioners in OV ETD do not only need skills, i.e. practical competence. They also need foundational competence and this requires comprehension. It is not good enough to be able to execute certain tasks – true foundational competence requires a deep understanding of the theory behind the fields of learning. Only once the theory is understood can one, through experience, gain reflexive competence.

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