Teachers’ perceptions on relevant upper-secondary vocational graduate competencies and their development
Keywords:vocational education & training, competence, VET and the labour market, policy issues, learning in life & work transitions
Finnish initial vocational education and training aims for graduate employability by emphasising self-directed learning and workplace learning. However, little is known about what competencies teachers consider relevant for graduates, how teachers address competencies in their instruction and how they perceive the benefits of workplace learning. Therefore, this study aims to highlight teachers’ perceptions and their practices on these topics. This is a qualitative interview study conducted in cooperation with a large Finnish vocational education provider. Participants of the study were teachers in automotive engineering, electrical and automation engineering, mechanical and metal engineering, and building service technology. The data were collected with semi-structured qualitative interviews and analysed using qualitative, abductive content analysis. The research findings indicate that teachers consider fundamental domain-specific competencies and work-related attitudes paramount for graduates as these promote professional expertise and employability. Secondly, teachers prefer to teach domain-specific competencies. However, the emergence of self-directed learning demands that teachers be pedagogically competent. Thirdly, teachers deem workplace learning beneficial but also consider that school may offer more equal and versatile education opportunities for everyone. The research findings enrich the scientific discussion on vocational graduate competency needs and vocational teaching and support the development of vocational education systems.
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