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FedUni professor provides vocational education advice at leading international forum

Posted: Wednesday 28 June 2017

Federation University Australia’s Professor Erica Smith has addressed a two-day forum in the United States as one of a small number of international experts.

The forum, Re-thinking TVET for the Challenges of the Future in Latin America and the Caribbean, was organised by the Inter-American Development Bank and held in Washington DC.

Professor Smith was invited to talk specifically about qualifications and professional development for teachers in the VET system.

She is a leading expert in this area, and is currently concluding an Australian Research Council funded project on the topic.

“Many of the Latin American countries are very concerned about expanding and improving their VET systems, and see teachers as central to that task,” Professor Smith said.

“They were very interested in the training and professional development that we give to our VET teachers in Australia.

“I was able to provide them with advice about what had worked well here, and what did not work so well.”

Professor Smith also worked with delegates from Chile and Argentina in round-table sessions.

In these sessions a wide range of VET topics were raised by these delegates, who were senior people from Ministries of Labour and Education.

“They wanted advice from the Australian experience about both ‘big picture’ issues and practical matters,” Professor Smith said.

“The ‘big picture’ issues included whether competency-based training was a  good basis for a VET system, whether private providers should be allowed into their systems, and how VET can address the move from manufacturing to service industries.

“Practical matters of concern included upskilling VET teachers to address new types of students, how to evaluate individuals’ teaching performance, and how people can be trained to write competency-based curriculum.”

Professor Smith said delegates from Brazil had also approached her about how to introduce VET into secondary schools on a large scale.

“The interest in Australia indicates how much our VET system is respected overseas,” Professor Smith said.

“It is easy for us to find fault with our system, but in providing advice I realised that there is much to be proud of in Australian VET.

“A forum such as this is an ideal way for countries to share ideas and learn from each other. While I was there primarily to advise, I also learned a great deal myself.”

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Senior Advisor, Media and Government Relations
03 5327 9510; 0408 519 674