An Exploration of FET Teacher Engagement, Continuous Professional Development, and Career Progression in the South West of Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The Irish FET (Further Education & Training) landscape has undergone major structural changes. Demands to professionalise the sector have resulted in raised professional and aca-demic requirements, while maintaining professional learning that supports adaptable responses to constantly changing industry practices and standards. Little is known about how FET pro-fessionals’ engagement in their role at work influences their commitment to CPD, and their expectations of career progression. With this overall lack of empirical attention, the purpose of this study was to contribute to current knowledge of the experiences of FET educators with respect to role engagement, CPD and career progression.
This qualitative interpretivist study used a purposive sample of twenty-three educators repre-senting a range of roles, contexts, disciplinary backgrounds, and experience in the FET sector of southwest Ireland. Participants delivered programmes at Levels 1-6 on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (Quality and Qualifications Ireland, 2018). Methods included two focus groups and twelve semi-structured interviews. The data sets were analysed using a mix of inductive coding and the constant comparative Comparisons between contexts and organisations were developed and built a multi-perspective view that informed the findings and discussion that follow in the paper.
Results from the study identify that engagement, professional learning, and career progression are mutually influential concepts. Thus, a high value and investment in engagement increases participation in CPD and develops expertise that contributes to career development and pro-gression. Each of these concepts are multifaceted and multi-layered and are individually de-fined, constructed, and evaluated according to personal, professional and organisational standards and expectations. Unexpectedly, the common influence on all three concepts was local or line management.
In this study, we further the research on FET teacher engagement in their role at work and how new professional learning and development frameworks and approaches might enhance and support the evolving professional identity and agency of those working in the sector. FET teachers at all levels, have the shared responsibility to be the ones to formulate how their professional role as teachers and educators will move forward in the 21st century. Developing pathways to career progression through innovative and effective CPD and other experiences will give teachers the skills to connect their teaching to practitioner focused research that es-tablishes a strong and professional ‘voice’ to emerge for the field of further education and training.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrends in vocational education and training research, Vol.IV. Proceedings of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET )
PublisherEuropean Research Network Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Publication statusPublished - 03 Sep 2021
EventEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2021: 'Education and Society: expectations, prescriptions, reconciliations’. - Online, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 06 Sep 202110 Sep 2021

Publication series

NameTrends in vocational education and training research


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2021
Abbreviated titleECER
Internet address


  • further education and training (FET) teachers; psychological conditions of personal engage-ment; professional learning and development; career progression


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