Missing From the Current Vocational Education Policy Equation: Highly Qualified Teachers/Trainers and Quality Vocational Teacher Education

Year: 1999

Author: Cornford, Ian R.

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Increased international competition and the globalisation of world trade create the need for a highly skilled Australian workforce. Australia's efforts in producing appropriate numbers of those with substantial vocational education qualifications is seen as lagging behind many other OECD countries (Cullen, 1997). While there appear to be serious federal government concerns about this, current government policies and initiatives appear to be contradictory. The importance of quality teacher/trainer education appears to be largely neglected and more and more untrained or inadequately trained part-time and casual teachers are being employed in the vocational sector. This paper examines a range of relevant issues including the proportions of part-time teachers in two of the largest TAFE systems, current requirements for employment as vocational teachers and the need to increase vocational teacher/trainer skills to meet the challenges of a knowledge society. It also draws upon case studies of two formerly large vocational teacher education centres to focus upon a loss of critical mass of experienced vocational teacher educators in these centres and to question the wisdom of policies allowing loss of such bodies of knowledge and skill.