Rethinking TVET in a Digital World
November 25, 2020
5 min read
Today’s job market is progressively transitioning from knowledge-based to skill-based employment. Employers look for candidates’ hands-on proficiency rather than their theoretical aptitude.
This shift towards a more skill-oriented job framework has brought the focus back on technical and vocational education and training, better known as TVET.
With its primary emphasis on work-based learning, TVET combines the process of knowledge acquisition with skill-building and practical training. This pedagogy strives to equip aspiring job seekers with the skill set needed to overcome the challenges posed by a dynamic job market.
Technical and vocational education and training is an assimilation of theoretical teaching, skill development, and practical training. It covers an array of occupational fields aimed at imparting lifelong learning resources primarily to the youth.
Moreover, TVET intends to provide an avenue for continual professional development. In doing so, it enables individuals to consistently upskill themselves and meet the needs of the dynamic industry standards.
In an economy that emphatically stresses the idea of innovation, the need for re-skilling is more pertinent than ever. Workers have to constantly better themselves at their jobs. To this end, vocational and skill-based teaching accomplishes the following purposes:
Advances in technology and its diffusion into the realm of education have had a massive influence over TVET as well. Technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and 3D Printing are ushering in the idea of Industry 4.0, changing the face of the modern job market.
As per the World Economic Forum, 65% of today’s children will grow up to work in positions and jobs that do not exist as of now. Researchers consider this renewed concept of industry 4.0 as one of the primary driving forces for this shifting landscape.
As the employment opportunities undergo this massive overhaul, there is a concomitant need to change the paradigm for technical and vocational education to prepare the youth for an increasingly technology-oriented industry.
Essentially, the need to restructure the traditional TVET framework derives from the following factors:
The educational framework must adapt to these changing demands of the tech-dominated industry. With the increasing digitization of the education ecosystem, more so in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to rethink skill-based learning in a more digital context.
Digital technology needs to be deployed in ways that stimulate young people’s interest in learning and following are some of the best ways to accomplish this.
Perhaps one of the limitations of the traditional TVET framework is the time it takes to familiarize a learner with the tools and equipment. There is always a risk of harm in some training sessions related to engineering domains. Moreover, the practical barriers arising out of lack of resources can also reduce the effectiveness of the traditional training methods.
With the use of virtual reality, students learning a new skill can avail themselves of a far more immersive experience. It is efficient and appealing to young learners. VR training is as realistic as it needs to be and allows the participant to learn through their mistakes.
At its best, VR helps trainees to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ and garner a more exhaustive and enriching learning experience to acquire a new skill or hone an existing one.
More importantly, the freedom to make mistakes without the fears involved in a real-life situation give VR an edge over other training tools. Besides, immersing in a virtual reality captures the students’ attention more than a multimedia presentation or a speech.
The concept of a flipped classroom focuses on making the classroom learning experience more interactive and collaborative. As opposed to the conventional teaching pedagogy, in a flipped classroom, students get the study material to peruse at home. The classroom lectures then are used for discussing and debating about the concerned topic.
This works in favor of a curriculum built to equip the learners with a set of new skills. It allows the teachers to familiarize the students with the application aspect rather than delving into the theoretical part of any course. It is, in fact, a form of blended learning wherein students receive content created via digital tools.
Flip-IT, a group of ten vocational schools across different European countries, exemplifies the correct use of the flipped classroom approach for TVET. The schools believe that this pedagogical module gives teachers a longer face-to-face time to teach learners the practical, hands-on aspects of the training.
When it comes to digitizing skill-oriented learning, open educational resources offer another viable solution for vocational schools. OER seeks to promote a more collaborative form of learning that gives learners access to software, platforms, and projects to learn from.
What OER accomplishes through practice is difficult to achieve through other teaching methods. Students can hone their skills through continuous application of their understanding into projects.
According to UNESCO’s Paris OER Declaration, “Open Educational Resources (OER) refers to teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others, with little or no restrictions.”
These practices promote deeper learning while facilitating students to adapt and personalize their learning practices. Some of the most popular OER platforms are Khan Academy, Lumen Learning, Learningpod, and OER Commons.
The best approach to make learners proficient in a practical field is through a combination of classroom and hands-on teaching. In the conventional pedagogical model, trainees follow the persistent approach, alternating between theoretical and practical learning activities.
With a greater emphasis on digital learning, the digitized TVET framework can stress a plug-and-play curriculum. This enables students to access the training from anywhere in the world simply by logging into a platform. They can also access the study resources at all times.
This model aligns well with digital apprenticeships exemplified by SHRDC, Malaysia’s endeavor to create this blended learning model. It is a feasible solution for any skill-based learning program apart from TVET as well. Whether it is sports, performing arts, coding, cooking, or anything else, plug-and-play befits any endeavor to upskill!
The field of TVET is often considered inferior to the more formal sources of education. However, as we shift towards a more skill-oriented job market, it is quintessential for students and job seekers to focus more on the practical implementation of their conceptual knowledge.
With the advances in digital education, it is possible for learners to accomplish this in more ways than one! Digitizing skill-based learning not only boosts students’ interest but also allows them the latitude to re-skill at their pace.