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Industry placement for teachers: professional development in the vocational education and training sector

posted on 01.06.2020, 02:22 by Schüller, Annamarie
An important aspect of teaching in vocational education and training is the issue of teacher currency. In the context of current VET requirements in Australia, the ability of a teacher to possess current knowledge about industry processes and practices is one of the fundamental cornerstones of vocational teaching. There are two primary requirements for vocational currency. One is the government administrative requirements through audit compliance and the other, is a notional desire by industry and teachers to be up-to-date with contemporary workplace policies and procedures. The acquisition of current workplace knowledge is typically attained by VET teachers through industry placements, a form of professional development. Industry placements are defined in this thesis as a voluntary period of time spent by a teacher to work in situ in a host organisation. The purpose for pursuing this form of professional development is to enable the teacher to observe and peripherally participate into that organisation's work activities. Industry placements may be a catalyst for the development of communities of practice, and in part, this is one of the foci of inquiry in this thesis. Current literature points to the benefits of industry placements. These include increased repertoire of current industry knowledge, enhanced classroom teaching and learning practices, the development of networks with industry professionals and the ability to use authentic artefacts and industry resources in the classroom, for the benefit of the students. Yet it seems that aspects of the industry placement, particularly as it relates to the nature of the learning derived through an industry placement, and the post placement outcomes for teachers, have received less detailed attention by researchers. This qualitative research addressed the following research questions: 1. What is an industry placement? 2. What do teachers perceive the learning to be - who learns what? 3. What factors enable or disable the teachers' learning in the industry placement community of practice? The research was limited to VET business discipline teachers. The research entailed a re-analysis of data gathered through a previously distributed voluntary survey that gathered information about the perceived value of industry placements. It then further interrogated teacher experience through in-depth semi-structured interviews with four VET business discipline teachers who had prior industry placement experience. In relation to question two, it was found that industry placements may positively impact upon teacher professional identities, reaffirming existing vocational competencies, and to some extent, enhance teaching and learning practices. Industry networking opportunities, whilst present, are not generally pursued. Additionally, it appears that there is little or no effort / interest in post-placement follow-up by the educational institution, consequently opportunities for capacity building are not maximised, signalling a lack of commitment by the educational institution to this type of professional development activity, other than to meet audit compliance. In relation to question three, it was found that teachers' ability to learn in the workplace is, as expected, influenced by a number of factors including the commitment of the host organisation and the educational institution to the industry placement initiative itself; the planning that precedes the industry placement; the openness of the host organisation to sharing their resources and knowledge; and the integration of the teacher into the day-to-day workplace activities and practices. In addition to these factors, the quality of the industry placement experience appears to be influenced by the agentic nature of the individual teacher, including their individual capacities to negotiate and mediate the challenges in that work environment. Consequently, the conclusion argues that a different approach to industry placement ought to be adopted by educational institutions. It is suggested that strategic links should be formed with industry to enhance commitment to, and facilitate industry placements with a view to building societal capacity to support a knowledge-based economy.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Terri Seddon

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Monash University. Faculty of Education. Education

Degree Type



Faculty of Education