Staff Development for Vocational Education
A Visit of a Delegation of Professionals from Germany – November 2014

On Monday and Tuesday, November 10 and 11, 2014, a delegation from Germany was hosted at The MOFET Institute. The 12-member delegation had been invited by the Ministry of the Economy, and the visit to MOFET was part of a seminar held in Israel on the topic of vocational education.
The visit to MOFET focused on two main topics:
a. Getting to know The MOFET Institute as a unique model of a center for professional development;
b. Conferring on the topic of training teachers of vocational education.

The MOFET Institute was introduced in several ways: First, the MOFET model and the stages of its development were presented: (1) the need for such a model, according to its founder, Dr. Sara Ziv; (2) its present activities; and (3) directions of future development, presented by the Head of the Institute, Dr. Michal Golan.
Subsequently, several central channels of activity were described:
(1) The School for Professional Specialization was described in a brief survey by Prof. Ya’akov Kedem and by means of workshops that were directed in parallel by Dr. Edna Ben-Shalom and Dr. Nurit Dvir. The participation in the workshop activity demonstrated to the guests the modus operandi of the tutorial-based encounters that are held in the special school. The guests took an active part in the encounters. 
(2) The Writing Channel was described by Dr. Sara Shimoni, who, in cooperation with Dr. Yehudit Shteiman, the head of the channel, revealed a part of the editor’s work to the guests. The latter were presented with an excerpt from a conversation between a writer and an editor. While the guests’ reactions to the components of the dialogue expressed cultural differences between Israel and Germany, at the same time, the example clarified the nature of the role and coincided with their own experience.
(3) Dr. Ainat Guberman presented the Research Authority as well as a research study on the training of kindergarten assistants. This study sparked a great deal of interest among the guests, since the training of kindergarten assistants is a topic in which some of them are involved.
(4) Brief overviews were also given by Dr. Liat Ben-Yehoshua Josefsberg regarding the Information Center, by Penny Barsimantov regarding the international portals, and by Boaz Borovsky regarding the Center for Technological Development and Communication.
The issue of vocational education was discussed mainly by a panel consisting of two former college heads – Prof. Yair Caro, former president of Oranim College of Education, and Dr. Aharon Zeidenberg, former president of Beit Berl Academic College. They were joined by Mr. Dan Prat, director of the educational programs of the Tzur Center, which was established by industrialist Stef Wertheimer for the advancement of vocational and technological education and training, and Dr. Zehava Bachar from the Ministry of the Economy. The panel was headed by Prof. Ya’akov Kedem who, among his various positions, had also occupied a senior position at Shenkar College.
The panel focused on the following questions:  
  • How should technological education look? 
  • Where should the training of teachers of vocational education take place? 
  • Who constitutes the target population of these training processes (students and lecturers)?
The guests expressed divided opinions with regard to almost every topic that was raised. Concerning the location of the training and the responsibility for it, opinions ranged between the claim that the whole of teacher education, in all of its forms, must take place in colleges of teacher education, on the one hand, and the argument stating that the training for vocational education must almost always take place in the workplaces, on the other. It was also asserted that until a clear definition of vocational education is agreed upon, the status quo should be maintained.
With regard to the target population that is to be directed toward teaching in the field of vocational education, it was clear that these will be individuals whose expertise is connected to the subjects that they have to be trained to teach. The question was how to furnish the engineers, technology experts, and so on, with the requisite pedagogical knowledge. It was repeatedly stressed that the mistake of claiming that vocational education should target weaker populations. 
must not be permitted to recur; instead, vocational education should be presented as an alternative to anyone who is not interested in other fields, not just to those who come from populations with difficulties 
The guests followed everything that was said, but during the concluding discussion, it became clear that they had not understood all of the topics that had been raised, the reason being that in Germany, the status and structure of vocational education are clearer and held in much higher esteem than they are in Israel. The manner in which Israeli society perceives vocational education was explained to the guests in the lecture given by Prof. Yehuda Bar Shalom of David Yellin College of Education, in which he summarized the development of this field in Israel, the process that transformed it into a refuge for members of weaker groups, and the need for a perceptual change throughout Israeli society as a whole.
In view of the fact that the population that enters MOFET’s gates is a population of adult learners, the program of the visit also related to adult learning. The same is true for the staff with whom the guests work and the future target population of teachers and teacher educators in vocational education. Sarah Lurie of Oranim College of Education shared her experience as a lecturer for adults and explained how it is different from teaching in a school in both the ways of teaching and the approaches she espouses and in the dialogue she creates with her pupils.
The visit comprised two days of intensive dialogue in which the guests were exposed to numerous topics, some of which were unique to The MOFET Institute and Israeli society, and some of which were universal. The guests were grateful for everything that was offered them, stressing that they would have to process all of the topics in order to understand them in depth, and expressing their desire to maintain their ties with MOFET.
During the meeting that concluded the entire visit to Israel, the members of the delegation stated that they had found the seminar in which they had participated at MOFET extremely interesting, and that they had learned a great deal from their visit to the Institute. They praised MOFET’s professional standard and resolved that a similar institute should be established in Germany as well.