Teacher industry placement in Australia: Voices from vocational education and training managers
An important aspect of vocational education and training (VET) teaching is education that is strongly linked to current industry practices. While this is a desirable pursuit, there are considerable challenges in it being implemented owing to increasingly changing work environments and the notion of ‘industry currency’. One way for VET teachers to remain up to date with contemporary industrial practices is for VET to pursue teacher placement in industry (TPI) opportunities. TPI is an agreement in terms of which the VET teacher is seconded to a firm for a period of time in order to perform predefined tasks. The resulting benefits include enhanced teaching practices and the development of deeper, long-term links with industry. However, TPI opportunities are not without their challenges. This article reports on an exploratory study of the views of VET education managers of business studies on the value of TPI. Because management support is integral to creating TPI opportunities, we explored the extent to which TPI is desired and supported by education managers. We found that policies supporting TPI initiatives, if they are in place, are not well formulated, and that a lack of resources and difficulties in finding industry partners exist. Despite these problems, education managers believe that these activities are of value to teaching programmes and of benefit to their department. We conclude that TPI should be an integral part of any VET professional development for teachers, but that, in order for TPI to be successful, appropriate resourcing and the development of strong industry networks are paramount.