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Professional Qualifications for Education Professionals

23 May 2023
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For any professional role, education qualifications are essential to maintaining a high standard of practice, building trust, and establishing credibility. Fostering a well-structured and productive learning environment is the core focus of the education sector - this requires an ongoing assessment of competence for professionals working in this space. The high-stakes aspect of this sector, therefore, goes hand-in-hand with quality assurance, taking into account the need to comply with regulatory requirements as well as ensure consistency across the board.

The VET (vocational education and training) sector has seen a shift in the way that learning is approached, with the emergence of technology and the demand for job-specific skill sets not only changing the way that education and training are delivered but the very nature of professional roles themselves.

As a result, the debate is no longer around why professional qualifications for education professionals are important, but how they should be implemented.

There are a wide variety of roles within the VET sector, each requiring a specific knowledge base and skill set. These have been further informed by advancements taking place within the sector. For instance, the responsibilities of a vocational instructor will differ from those of an assessor and again for a mentor or coach.

As a vocational education and training provider, you should be demanding more from professional qualifications:

  • How relevant are they to your workforce?
  • Are they flexible and comprehensive enough to effectively assess the right skills and knowledge?
  • Do they address your unique challenges?

Understanding what it means to be a competent professional, and being able to interrogate this through the use of assessment, is fundamental to the long-term success of your organisation.

At Kaplan Assessments, we recognise that your organisation is unique and will have its own checklist when it comes to measuring professional competencies. In partnership with you, we can design, develop, and/or deliver high-stakes professional qualifications that are tailored towards your organisational needs.

Get in touch with our expert team today.

What are Education Qualifications?

From apprenticeships and traineeships to vocational qualifications, such as a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or a Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) diploma, professionals working within the VET sector require education qualifications. These are essentially credentials, both academic and practical, that demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills to perform certain roles effectively.

For those who work with vocational learners who are preparing to enter specific jobs or trades, having a high level of competence is essential. Not only do professionals need to have a comprehensive understanding of the role itself but they need to be able to set learners up for success with the right training and support.

The split between classroom-based learning and on-the-job experience demands a diverse skill set. On the one hand, education professionals need to have an in-depth understanding of the subject matter they are teaching, and then deliver and assess that knowledge. On the other hand, they also need to offer industry-specific expertise and provide sufficient mentorship.

With such a variety of professional roles operating within this sector, are the right knowledge and skills being assessed sufficiently and are they specific to the role requirements?

Why a lack of Continuing Professional Development in the vocational education sector is problematic

The careers landscape is continuing to shift and the demand for proficient workers with specialised skills is greater than ever. This puts pressure on the VET sector to not only adapt to emerging changes in education and learning but to review the qualification framework of particular roles. Namely, are they fulfilling their purpose in providing vocational learners with a foundation to access careers, as well as supporting the evolving needs of employers?

The removal of the further education (FE) and training workforce regulations in 2012 means that CPD is no longer regarded as mandatory. This is problematic. Ongoing assessment through CPD provides a measurable standard of competence within various aspects of a role. Without this in place, the quality of education and training is likely to suffer. It also means that professionals will fall behind in certain advancements within the sector, which can be detrimental to their own skill sets and leave learners at a disadvantage.

Moreover, where CPD is in place, the qualification may be too broad in its framework or have an inability to adapt to emerging changes in the sector, presenting a barrier for engagement and an issue around effectiveness.

The integration of technology

Technology-enhanced learning (TEL) is becoming a significant area of interest. And no wonder. It not only enhances the learning experience with a more interactive approach but enables vocational learners to develop skills in areas like digital communication, data analysis, and project management. Vital, considering the weight that is placed on digital skills in today’s job market.

TEL is rapidly transforming the way in which VET is delivered, with a focus on blended learning.

An emerging emphasis on job-specific skills

The changing nature of work has led to an increased demand for vocational learners to have job-specific skill sets. In response, vocational programmes are being tailored to the specific needs of employers, with a higher level of industry involvement.

For example, automotive technology programmes are moving away from a theoretical focus and towards a more hands-on training approach. This means that striving technicians will have the opportunity to develop their skill sets in a real-world setting.

With greater emphasis being placed on practical training, education professionals in the VET sector are required to upskill and adapt.

The importance of instructional design

Due to advancements in technology, along with a focus on the practical application of knowledge and skills, instructional design has emerged as a favourable approach to learning. Critical in the role of programme sequencing, it is designed to maximise learning outcomes, drawing on principles from education, psychology, and communication.

Surprisingly, there are still limited qualifications available for professionals working in the VET sector, despite it being a key area inspected by Ofsted. Most instructional designers are recruited via experience rather than technical competence. The development of a tailored CPD qualification, with the outcome of improving the candidate’s proficiency in this aspect of VET, addresses this gap.

What does this mean for VET providers?

Emerging changes to the sector are setting new standards and changing the nature of various roles. Failing to fulfil expectations and remain agile will lead to a loss of confidence in you as an education and training provider and a potential decrease in enrollment. Without a professional CPD qualification in place, how can you expect to overcome these challenges?

At Kaplan Assessments, we specialise in providing a tailored solution that aims to meet your specific objectives as a VET provider.

Assessing, coaching or mentoring - what skills are needed for an apprenticeship trainer?

Apprenticeship trainers are considered dual professionals, demanding a distinct combination of skills. In addition to showcasing expertise in their vocational field, they are required to deliver one-to-one learning support for a range of levels, whether that’s an apprentice, trainee, or even a new recruit in the workplace.

This unique role doesn’t sit solely in the position of an assessor, a coach, or a mentor - it’s a blend of all three. Ranging from developing assessment tools that align with the relevant criteria to providing pastoral support and guidance, apprenticeship trainers certainly have their hands full.

Currently, there is increasing emphasis on the importance of occupational expertise within this role, as opposed to having experience in training and instructional design. Without a solid understanding of key learning theories or effective evaluation techniques, providers may fall short in delivering engaging, supportive, and compliant apprenticeship training. In fact, this lack of transferable skills has led to a considerable recruitment gap within this sector.

This raises the question of competency: how is this wide range of skills being assessed and verified?

As personalised learning techniques are becoming more widely used in the VET space, apprenticeship trainers in particular need to be responsive to the individual learner. This requires them to adjust their training approach to meet a variety of needs, abilities, and learning styles. Such a diverse role demands a more flexible approach to professional qualifications. As a VET provider, you need to be confident that your employees are carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities to a high standard.

Our qualifications provide quality assurance whilst being centred around a role’s unique requirements.

Are CAVA qualifications still relevant?

CAVA, short for Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement, is considered the most comprehensive qualification for assessment roles within VET. Having been established in the UK in 2010, it is widely recognised within the sector and a mandatory requirement for professionals working in Further Education (FE) and Skills.

While the level 3 qualification provides a fairly solid foundation for measuring competence, does it offer the level of flexibility required in such a rapidly evolving sector?

The first thing to consider is the move towards more personalised forms of assessment, along with the wider digitisation of assessment. Whereas vocational assessment has previously been conducted through standardised methods, more emphasis is now being placed on assessors taking the individual needs and circumstances of the learner into account. This is further driven by the emergence of online assessments and virtual learning environments, making assessment more accessible. As a result, assessors will need to expand their skill set to include the use of digital tools, such as carrying out observations virtually or providing feedback online.

Within this changing landscape, do CAVA qualifications truly provide a comprehensive framework?

The second issue is around the introduction of coaching and mentoring roles within vocational assessment. Compared to a more traditional assessor role, these will differ in their focus and scope. For instance, while the responsibilities of an assessor are centred around the assessment process itself, a coach or mentor may work alongside the assessor to provide guidance and support for the learner.

This differentiation is not accounted for in the current CAVA qualifications, leaving a gap for alternative frameworks to be developed.

The answer? An alternative professional qualification that addresses the various developments happening within a particular role, as well as having the scope to adapt at the same pace as your sector.

Tailored Education Qualifications with Kaplan Assessments

Thanks to our tailored approach, you will no longer be restricted by a standardised assessment methodology. Whatever your desired outcome, we can advise on and develop the most appropriate route to qualification for your workforce. Moreover, thanks to our Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), you can have complete confidence that your education qualification will be accredited and meet all the regulatory requirements.

When it comes to high-stakes professional qualifications, the pressure is on to provide an adequate framework that truly assesses the knowledge and skill set of a specialist role. The education sector is no different. With Kaplan Assessments, we use a thorough psychometric analysis to ensure each stage of the assessment process is fit for purpose - from the quality of the questions to the delivery.

Whether you’re looking to build your qualification around a particular niche or address advancements within the vocational education and training sector as a whole, and how they impact certain roles, we have a solution for you.

Elevate your day-to-day standards and secure the future of your organisation. Partner with Kaplan Assessments today.

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