TVET has been gaining popularity and it is considered the driving force for sustainable development and wealth creation for any country.

Although TVET trainers are critical players in the realisation of TVET objectives, the issue has been a matter of concern in most countries due to the lack of quality and quantity trainers. Most TVET trainers are recruited from fresh graduates of vocational and technical colleges and universities, thus lacking industrial exposure and experience. Other challenges include gender disparity, linkages with industry, and issues of standardisation.

It is for these reasons that a number of countries, particularly in South Eastern Asia have introduced a raft of measures to improve on training and quality of trainers.

In Brunei, the country has introduced policies and practices that will ensure they have high-quality trainers, which includes enhancing trainers’ professional standards and improving the image of TVET as a first-choice profession. Indonesia is focusing on trainer certification programs by stressing the importance of qualification and competency standards. Lao and Cambodia are focusing on raising their trainers’ qualifications to higher diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

Malaysia is addressing the complexity of various providers including establishing the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and transforming trainers’ competencies by including industrial experience and industry needs, creating policy guidelines to develop highly effective instructors, and promoting trainer capacity-building programs by introducing a training levy.

Myanmar has introduced e-learning systems for trainers to further their education and training in accordance with National Qualification Standards (NQS) and ASEAN Qualification Framework (AQF). Singapore Institute of Technical Education is training its own trainers using a competency-based curriculum (CBC) and authentic learning approach using the TPCK model (Technological, Pedagogical, Content, Working Knowledge).

Thailand is emphasising the importance of education for sustainable development for TVET trainers, introducing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and using instructional media. Vietnam is highlighting the importance of upgrading trainers both pre and in-service focusing on management, contents, curricula, training and assessment methods.

In Kenya, TVETA has developed a trainer’s Qualification and the Competence Standards Framework to guide the training and development of trainers. The framework categorises the core human resource providers into the instructor, trainer, developer trainer, manager trainer, and director in addition to the assessor and verifier. Each of these categories has different roles to play in CBET implementation and therefore requires different training approaches.

The minimum competencies for instructor and trainer include planning a training session, delivering CBET, conducting competency assessment, and maintaining training facilities in addition to ensuring internal quality assurance. On the other hand, a trainer developer focuses on the development of instructional materials while a trainer manager mainly emphasises governance and management. The assessor uses different methods to draw inferences about the competence performance of an individual while the verifier validates assessment activities in accordance with the set procedures to ensure the maintenance of quality and consistency of assessment of candidates for award of competence qualifications within approved centres.

Also, the trainers shall be required to renew their training licence periodically with evidence of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as required by law. In order to implement CPD, TVETA is developing policies, standards, guidelines and frameworks required for the development of a competent workforce. This is expected to be rolled out in the next year.

CPD include keeping abreast with the development of new technology and industrial working methods, support with curriculum development, new qualifications, and training. It is also part of a lifelong education by applying the recognition of prior learning (RPL) approach allowing some trainers who already possess the knowledge and skills to gain a qualification without completing a standard training or course.

As part of the professional growth plan, a trainer could be released back into the industry for a period of six months. This arrangement would provide an opportunity for networking with practitioners in the field, and learning about emerging skills and work processes. For any professional growth plan to be effective, administrators must provide the necessary leadership and support. Naturally, if the trainers are well supported and their students succeed, it reflects positively on the administrators. By incorporating documented semi-annual accountability into a portfolio, more meaningful trainer development can be achieved. Effective professional growth plans, therefore, should be the joint effort between good trainers who want to better themselves and administrators who can provide the necessary leadership.

The establishment of Kenya School of TVET is therefore very important in actualising reforms relating to the development of high-quality trainers. These include the implementation of TVET pedagogy by establishing a real industry working environment through collaboration and utilising the workplace as a learning venue. Also using a competency-based model and incorporating project and problem-based learning as the demand from industry for technical skills and employability skills is becoming more obvious as well as the adoption of vocational pedagogy coupled with the use of technology and 21st Century skills.

Training should emphasise different assessment techniques considering the complexity of individual students, fast-changing technology, and industry demands as well as holistic and authentic assessment requirements. Also, utilisation of various assessment tools such as rubrics, portfolio assessment, and performance-based assessment where learning outcome becomes the focus.

With concerted effort, support and collaboration from the various stakeholders, it is envisaged that the TVET training in Kenya will catapult to a much higher level, benefitting various stakeholders within the TVET ecosystem.

The author is the Director General TVETA