The Importance of VET Teacher Professionalism: An Australian Case Study

  • Erica SmithEmail author
Reference work entry


The effectiveness of vocational education and training (VET) systems depends upon their teachers. The teachers are regarded as “dual professionals,” requiring expertise in both their background industry areas and in VET pedagogy itself. This chapter uses Australia as a case study of what happens when the accepted regime of qualifications for VET teachers alters. In Australia full-time VET teachers were, until recently, required to undertake degree level qualifications in VET pedagogy, taught at universities, either before or, more usually, after entering the occupation. The required level has now reduced to the regulatory minimum of a Certificate IV level qualification, taught by training providers not universities, and often provided to their own teachers. The qualification contains only 300 nominal hours of training. It has been recognized as a particularly poorly taught qualification, requiring the introduction of a high degree of regulation and most recently a special compliance framework for training providers wishing to deliver it.

In this chapter, the historical path of the decline in VET teacher professionalism in Australia is charted, including research evidence from a national project managed by the author, about the effects of higher-level qualifications on VET teacher practices and quality and teachers’ propensity to engage in professional development. A conceptual model of the attributes of professional VET teachers with regard to qualifications and professional development is presented. The chapter concludes with some recommendations for change and implications for other countries.


Vocational education teacher Australian system Teacher professionalism 



The author wishes to acknowledge the following researchers who were involved in the research project reported in this chapter: Jackie Tuck, Keiko Yasukawa, Roger Harris, and Hugh Guthrie.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federation University AustraliaBallaratAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Volker Wedekind

There are no affiliations available

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