Improving Professional Skills for Trainers Working with Unemployed Adult Learners in Austria

Kieberger, Esther (2017). Improving Professional Skills for Trainers Working with Unemployed Adult Learners in Austria. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

Trainers in New Star Vocational College (name changed) in Austria are employees who teach unemployed learners. Usually, they have advanced qualifications in other disciplines but not related to adult education. The Austrian labour policy focuses on retraining unemployed people to enter the labour market, a key concern that is given high priority. Therefore, New Star Vocational College relies on these trainers to implement the type of courses offered. In this thesis the perspective is that the trainer has a key role to play and should be adequately prepared in terms of unemployed learners, so as to have an impact on learning outcomes and to improve teaching quality. The research study aims to assess the perception of learners, trainers and the management on how adult learning is viewed in New Star Vocational College, qualities of a good trainer, teaching quality and how improvements can be made to equip the trainers through continuing professional development.

Data was collected and analysed using Grounded Theory influenced by the interpretive paradigm, which is discussed in Chapter 3.3. I utilised semi-structured interviews, open-ended questionnaires and documents. Twenty semi-structured interviews were carried out with trainers and managers, while open-ended questionnaires were distributed to 12 adult learners, who all responded.

The study finds that trainers are essential to the success of retraining the adult learners. Furthermore, the study was able to identify detailed difficulties and challenges of teaching long- term unemployed learners, and to understand the trainers’ need to find ways to improve their professional skills necessary to teach this target learner. This study concludes that trainer professional development is important with support from managerial systems and other stakeholders. Key suggestions to facilitate improvements to support trainers, learners and institution are well defined. In future research, more data that reflects on this particular situation should be collected.

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