Global megatrends, such as automation, digitalisation, the green transition and population ageing, are bringing about structural changes in labour markets around the world. These changes have an impact on skills demand and supply. Vocational education and training (VET) can play a key role in responding to changing skill needs by equipping young people and adults with the right skills.

As in all parts of the education system, teachers and institution leaders are at the heart of high-quality VET. Their importance was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the commitment and creativity of teachers and education institution leaders safeguarded the continuity of teaching and learning. Teachers in VET need to have a unique combination of pedagogical and industry-specific skills and knowledge that allow them to effectively teach vocational theory and practice to students. Moreover, as students in VET are often more diverse than in general education programmes, VET teachers play a key role in motivating students and overcoming barriers to learning. Leaders of VET institutions manage complex organisations that often involve close ties with local stakeholders and require smart investment in tools and technologies for teaching a diverse set of VET programmes.

In light of structural changes in the labour market and associated changing skill needs, VET teachers need opportunities to keep their skill and knowledge up to date with workplace practices. They also need to keep abreast of new technologies for teaching and learning and innovative pedagogical approaches. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the benefits of the use of digital technologies in education, but also brought some key challenges to light – especially in VET, where practical learning is the norm. Institution leaders play a key role in attracting and retaining VET teachers with the right skills and providing opportunities for professional development. In this respect, the ability of leaders to develop close ties with the world of work is becoming of even greater importance in a changing labour market.

In spite of their important role, data and information on effective policies and practices for attracting, training and retaining VET teachers and leaders are limited. This report aims to fill the knowledge gap, by assessing the key challenges and opportunities for VET teachers and leaders as skills needs change, and by providing international good practice examples and policy pointers to ensure that teachers and leaders can deliver high quality VET. The report is part of the OECD Centre for Skills’ broader work on VET, which supports countries in building attractive, inclusive and responsive VET systems.

This report was drafted by Shinyoung Jeon, Pauline Musset and Rodrigo Torres from the OECD Centre for Skills, under the supervision of Marieke Vandeweyer (manager of the VET team) and Andrew Bell (Acting Head of the OECD Centre for Skills). The report has benefited from helpful comments provided by Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs), colleagues in the Centre for Skills, the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, and the Directorate for Education and Skills. Administrative and editorial assistance was provided by Charity Kome, Jennifer Cannon and Rasa Silyte-Niavas from the OECD Centre for Skills and by Sally Hinchcliffe. Aurelien Kaske and Koshi Murakoshi provided research support.

The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of OECD member countries.

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