The creation of a national centre for vocational training has been recommended in a report by the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), published today.
The National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Centre would champion research and development of vocational pedagogy, the report suggested, and would develop a regional network of centres to showcase excellent vocational teaching and learning.
The commission’s chair, Frank McLoughlin CBE, said: “It’s clear there has to be something to hold the centre of the development of the VET system, for things like curriculum design, continuing professional development for staff or technology development.
“All the countries recognised as having best practice, Germany, Switzerland, Demark, have national VET centres or institutes . . . it’s really important for training providers, employers, and people delivering technology to work together.”
The report proposes that any national centre should be developed jointly by training providers, employers, the FE Guild and government, who would work with university and international research experts.
Institute for Learning chief executive Toni Fazaeli welcomed the proposal, saying the time was right for a greater national commitment to FE research.
She added: “Learners and employers rightly expect the practice of teaching, training and learning to be based on sound and groundbreaking research and evidence, rivalling the very best in the world.
There is a caricature that colleges and training providers are just qualifications machines.
“For too long, despite some outstanding contributions, we have lamented the relative paucity of university-led research focusing on FE compared with schools and higher education.”
Mr McLoughlin said the centre could also help with the implementation of the commission’s recommendations around the availability of technology and industry standard facilities for learners.
“The use of sophisticated digital simulation is transforming the place of work, for example around artillery or aero engines,” he said.
“Digital simulation needs a significant investment . . . colleges, training providers and employers could collectively lever money in to the National VET Centre.”
The report also called for the sector to adopt the concept of the relationship between employers and vocational training providers as a ‘two-way street’, where employers were not just customers of vocational education, but were engaged at every level in the creation and delivery of programmes.
“There is a caricature that colleges and training providers are just qualifications machines, separated off from employers,” said Mr McLoughlin.
“It’s largely not true but there are many more opportunities to ensure colleges, training providers and employers work hand in hand.”
Other central recommendations include a nationally specified curriculum where elements could be tailored to local demand and the introduction of Teach Too, a training scheme to ensure trainers have a dual professionalism as both teachers and experts in their field.
Mr McLoughlin said: “There’s a big prize here. We’ve got the elements of a world-beating vocational system. The measure of the success of our recommendations will be that in 10 years, nobody goes to Germany, Denmark or Switzerland. Instead people will visit the UK to see how we do it.”