As in all parts of the education system, teachers and trainers are at the heart of strong vocational education and training (VET) systems. Their importance was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the commitment and creativity of teachers and trainers safeguarded the continuity of teaching and learning. Teachers and trainers in VET need to have a unique combination of pedagogical and industry-specific skills and knowledge that allows them to effectively teach vocational theory and practice to students. Moreover, as learners in VET are often more diverse than in general education programmes, VET teachers and trainers play a key role in overcoming barriers to learning.

Having well-prepared teachers and trainers is key for high-quality VET. Initial education and training to prepare teachers and trainers for their role needs to be carefully designed to ensure that it equips future or new teachers and trainers with the skills to effectively train and support VET learners in their field of study. At the same time, this type of initial teacher and trainer preparation should not constitute a substantial entry barrier that would hinder the access of skilled and motivated professionals to the teaching and training profession – especially as many countries already face shortages of teachers and trainers. Striking the right balance between quality and flexibility is crucial to ensure the supply of well-prepared teachers and trainers in VET.

In spite of their important role, data and information on effective policies and practices for attracting and training VET teachers and trainers are limited. This report aims to fill the knowledge gap, by looking at policies and practice to regulate the entry into the VET teaching and training profession and to prepare these teachers and trainers for their role. The analysis focuses on five OECD countries: Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. Each of these countries have a well-established VET system and have different strategies for balancing the need for comprehensive preparation of teachers and trainers and flexibility. 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, Malgorzata Kuczera and Irina Vogel from the OECD Centre for Skills, under the supervision of Marieke Vandeweyer (manager of the VET team) and El Iza Mohamedou (Head of the OECD Centre for Skills). The report has benefited from comments provided by Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs) and colleagues in the Centre for Skills. Administrative and editorial assistance was provided by Jennifer Cannon and Duniya Dedeyn (OECD Centre for Skills).

The OECD is grateful for the support from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The project has hugely benefited from the inputs and feedback provided by colleagues in the five case study countries, in particular from the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship; the Ministry of Education and Children in Denmark; the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Germany; the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands; and the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. The report also benefited from feedback received from the Group of National Experts (GNE) on VET and from the Department for Education in England (United Kingdom).

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