An exploration of FET Teacher Engagement, Career Progression and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the Further Education Sector in the South-West of Ireland

Anne O'Mahony

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    The Further Education and Training (FET) sector is key to the economic growth and recovery of Ireland. Historically provision was often ad hoc, informal, and responding to local, and individual needs (VECs), or the skills needs of industry (FÁS). However, since 2013, SOLAS has been tasked with amalgamating provision existing under a single entity with significant structural and organisational changes. These have caused shifts in identity, ethos and objectives. To achieve the strategic aim of building a world-class integrated system of FET the sector requires engaged, enthusiastic, and committed teachers. This research set out to explore FET teacher engagement, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and career progression in the South-West of Ireland in order to add to the limited knowledge on FET teachers’ lives, their understanding, experiences and ambitions for their continuous professional development and career progression. This qualitative study takes an interpretivist phenomenological approach, based on the understanding that contexts are complex, subjective and dynamic and open to personal interpretation Twenty-four participants took part in this study comprised of one pilot study (3); two focus groups (9); and semi-structured interviews (12). The target population was FET teachers working in QQI programmes (Level 1 -6) from different contexts, with a span of age, experience and duties. The data collected was analysed using the constant comparative method to allow themes and patterns to emerge. Findings from the study include: i) Role engagement at work was high with a particular emphasis on students and the teaching-learning environment. Personal role engagement did not lead to organisational commitment due at least in part to a perceived lack of psychological safety. ii) CPD was understood in its broadest sense to include a broad range of both structured and unstructured professional learning and development. A dichotomy exists between what FET teachers understand and value as CPD and what the ETB organisation and local management provides and values as CPD activities. iii) Career progression is perceived by the FET teachers as i) teaching and a ‘flat’ career; and ii) managing/administration and a vertical career. Those who chose teaching found themselves simultaneously in different career stages (Fessler & Christensen, (198). Career opportunities and advancement were limited to administrative/managerial positions. iv) FET teacher role engagement strongly influenced their views of the value of the provision of CPD by their organisation, and their perception of an FET teacher pathway to career progression.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Graham, Anne, Supervisor
    • Conneely, Sinead, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2021


    • Continuing Professional Development, Further Education


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