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Towards a more systematic approach to continuing professional development in vocational education and training

Vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers have a key role in ensuring that workers in business and industry are upskilled and up-to-date in a rapidly changing industrial, economic and technological environment. It follows that the VET practitioners should themselves keep up to date, not only with industry developments but also with the pedagogical skills needed to embrace technology and adapt to new sites for learning. However, in Australia and other Western nations, continuing professional development for VET practitioners has been spasmodic and not always well supported, in contrast to the ways it has been established and accepted in other professions. This paper examines the professional development approaches of some of those other professions and identifies the key features that might be adopted in any genuine attempt to develop a more purposeful and systematic provision of ongoing learning for teachers and trainers in VET. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations aimed at Australian VET practitioners in particular, but which might be applicable to VET in any developed country.