Generation Alpha, the next generation of children after Gen-Z, form the bulk of the next generation of students. Born after 2010, the kids of Gen Alpha are tough, tech-savvy, and quick to learn. And we need to be prepped and ready to learn and grow along with them.
We have leapt from the 4th to the 5th Industrial Revolution — moving from a focus on the rapid digitisation of industries, patterns and processes, to the synergy between people and machines — all in the span of two decades. It is now vital for graduates to master technical and vocational education skills adapted for the digital age, especially in areas such as the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector – which is why Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) is important.
What Is TVET?
TVET refers to the development of technical and vocational skills via formal, non-formal and informal learning processes. In essence, TVET covers the practical, non-academic aspects of a job, with the official UNESCO definition describing it as “a supplement to general education in terms of academic and field-specific knowledge, concrete vocational training, as well as everyday soft-skills and general attitude”.
Under TVET programmes, young adults are familiarised with what they need to know for their chosen line of work as they are given an early look at their fields of interest. Among the benefits of this is that it prepares young adults for their entry into the working world, easing the transition from student to a member of the workforce. This early exposure is particularly useful in fields where hands-on knowledge can be a powerful asset, such as vocational fields. This includes education, particularly in the field of ECE where many budding educators often prove to be woefully ill-equipped to cope with the reality of teaching today.
Current Issues in The ECE Sector
While many young graduates who enter the ECE field are buoyed by passion, their entry to the practical side of the field is often on the strength of their academic credentials alone – due to an emphasis on book-learning, rather than practical training. Some institutes do offer practical training modules. However, this is normally a brief assessment towards the end of the learning period rather than a continuous, ongoing process.
This lack of attention to practical training, while helping young graduates develop strong technical and academic skills, often leaves them off-balance and ill-equipped. Unexpected or organic situations where textbook learning is just not enough will prove to be a major stumbling block for these young graduates – demotivating them, and leaving them doubting their actual teaching capabilities.
So, the question is – can this be overcome?
Bridging the Gap with ECE
The honing of additional tech-based knowledge and skills, in addition to the necessary training, is vital in coping with the field of ECE – a considerably more dynamic area than standard childhood education, as it encompasses more than teaching lessons alone.
Adequate retraining of existing ECE educators is one of the first steps that can be taken to address this imbalance in learning priorities. This will help improve the quality of curriculum content as adequate retraining in TVET skills will also emphasise the importance of digital tech based skills for teachers, and the ability to use them cohesively within a classroom setting.
This awareness will also trickle down to the newer batches of teachers in training, which will lead to the development of a new generation of well-rounded educators. Workforce and teacher training programmes are the way to go in addressing these needs – with practical internship training to help supplement and develop opportunities for actual hands-on experience. Future ECE educators should also be given the opportunity to access TVET training with an emphasis on digital tech — this will have them ready to hit the ground running as they prepare to teach the next generation of tech-savvy students.
In curating training material, it is also vital that a relevant curriculum, suitable for the needs of the time is developed. Yelaoshr Education College offers opportunities to do so for both current and future members of the ECE teaching community, working towards building a comprehensive platform of employment to career development for future educators with the end goal of empowering children via education.
Examples of areas which will be covered by TVET include tech-based industrial training with an emphasis on up and coming educational programmes and software which can streamline and/or supplement the teaching process – the better way to effectively teach and prepare Gen Alpha for the future workforce of their time.
Naturally, the training in question needs to be done via the proper channels – certification in the form of a diploma or a certified teaching licence from a recognised institution in the field is equally important. More than mere words on paper, it is these qualifications which boost certainty and inculcates a certain level of trust on a professional scale, translating to a stronger reassurance of a brighter future for our education system – one that brings together the best of theoretical and practical learning.