Some teachers work four days a week at one of the factories and teach one day a week in the Polytechnic. These part time teachers are usually the heads of departments within the Polytechnic. During their one day teaching, they spend the morning coaching full time teachers and in the afternoons are with the students. Other teachers return to the factory once a month or when the factory is not too busy. Some very experienced teachers who work four days in the factories also provide professional development training to the full time teachers.
The teachers at the Polytechnic mainly started in industry and return to the workplace on a regular basis depending on the company production schedules. If they do not come from industry, they participate in regular workplace training similar to an apprenticeship training programme. The instructors who teach the practical skills are workers from the factories.
The value of being competent in a technical area is an essential base for teaching technical skills and is highly regarded by Astra Polytechnic. The Polytechnic undertakes a training needs analysis of teachers and brings in technical specialists from the factories to develop the teachers’ skills. The Polytechnic develops the pedagogical skills of their teachers and encourages a student centred learning approach to competency development. They also send the teachers to university in order to get a Masters Degree.
Previously, equipment would be updated every 9-12 years, but now is upgraded within 5-7 years. This has an impact on the skills and knowledge of the full time teachers. Their professional development and associated licences are also costly to maintain. Environmental regulations change almost every year or two years and this is where the workplace based teachers are a very important link. They understand the changes that are implemented and introduce them into the Astra Manufacturing Polytechnic programmes.