NIACE encouraged by adult vocational teaching and learning report

25 March 2013

The argument that a successful economy needs an outstanding vocational learning system and should not be seen as ‘second class education’ has received a boost today, in the report published by the Commission of Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning.

In particular, NIACE welcomes the Commission’s position that:

  • We need a first class vocational education and training system which enables adults to perform well in a job, while also providing a broad ‘platform for occupational, personal and educational progression’.
  • Curriculum development should be put back at the heart of vocational teaching and learning, with qualifications ‘being the kite-mark of a learning programme, rather than a definition of curriculum’.
  • ‘Vocational learners are not passive recipients’ and providers should therefore work in conjunction with them to develop provision.
  • Excellent vocational education and training requires well-trained and well-qualified teachers and trainers.
  • Vocational learning for adults is distinctive from how young people learn. The vast majority of the workforce needed over the next 10 years is already in work and bring with them ‘their own experiences, knowledge and expectations of life and work to the process of vocational learning’.

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, said:

“We are really pleased to have been working with the Commission on this vital report which has many recommendations to support.  In particular the recognition that adults learn in a different way to young people, the emphasis upon the importance of English and maths, the tailored approach to qualifications and the need to put curriculum-development and programme-design back at the heart of vocational teaching and learning.

“However, for excellent examples of vocational teaching and learning to become the norm and to enable individuals, businesses and communities to grow and succeed, it’s vital that we do not treat learners as passive recipients. We must listen to them – their experiences, knowledge and expectations are vital to the process and progress of vocational learning. 

“NIACE is keen to support the Commission in taking this work forward, and we are particularly interested in assisting with the establishment of a National VET Centre to help ensure that excellent teaching and learning of this kind is available for all who want and need it. In the current economic climate it is more important than ever that vocational education and training is not seen as being ‘second class’, but is recognised as playing a vital role in enhancing the competitiveness of the UK economy, as well as in promoting the well-being of individuals and society.”

The report, It’s About Work…, argues that excellent programmes of adult vocational teaching and learning depend upon adults being able to understand the relevance of their learning to work, ‘dual professional’ tutors who combine occupational and teaching expertise, access to industry-standard facilities and resources, and clear escalators to higher-level vocational learning.