Importance of Vocational Education
Vocational Education refers to a system or course of study which prepares individuals for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities. Vocational Education is traditionally non-academic in nature and is totally related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation. Because it is Vocation based, it is called Vocational Education. Until recently i.e until the end of the twentieth century, the aim of vocational education was to focus on specific trades such as automobile mechanic or welder and was therefore associated with the activities of lower social classes. Because of this, it attracted a level of stigma. Vocational education, in fact, is closely related to the age-old apprenticeship system of learning.
But with the development of economies worldwide, the labour market became more specialized. The demand for higher levels of skill both in government and business sector started increasing. This lead to the further development of vocational education through publicly funded training organizations and subsidized apprenticeship or traineeship initiatives for businesses. At the post-secondary level vocational education is typically provided by an institute of technology, or by a local community college. Vocational education has also diversified over the 20th century. Demand for Vocational Professionals is required more than ever in various industries such as retail, tourism, information technology, funeral services and cosmetics, as well as in the traditional crafts and cottage industries.
Vocational education prepares an individual for a job and not college. While most colleges will accept vocational education students, they tend to be limited because most colleges lack proper courses. Vocational education is a multifaceted one as it tends to focus around several careers which include auto repair, woodworking, carpentry, blacksmith, cosmetology, and other fields. There are many vocational schools across the country which provide the students to gain valuable hands-on experience.
Skill development and employability
Vocational learning opportunities play a critical role in skill development and employability. The importance of vocational development can largely be summed up as the difference between theoretical knowledge vs. practical skills. In non-vocational studies, students often spend hours of their time exploring a variety of different subjects. Their class time tends to be only a few hours per week, as they will spend many hours in the library and on computers conducting research and writing papers that help them continue to build their theoretical knowledge in a variety of fields.
Even within their chosen discipline, they often spend a significant amount of time exploring theory, ideas, and procedures used by other professionals in the industry. They have significantly fewer opportunities to actually put these ideas to work compared to students going through a vocational education situation. The skills for work and vocational pathways are significantly limited for these students, as their theoretical knowledge does not have the work experience that helps them transition from a classroom study topic into their actual profession. This can sometimes cause challenges when the students graduate and transition into the working world.
However, for students in a vocational education and training setting, this situation gets corrected. Students spend hours in the practical workshops each week learning hands-on practical skills related to their chosen field. Class time tends to increase in these schools, compared to their outside research time, because students spend more time exploring actual work opportunities that prepare them for their future jobs. They do not focus as much time on researching the theoretical as learning the practical.
Students also have courses that will walk them through chances to use the highly specialized equipment and spaces that they need to do their jobs well. Rather than simply learning about this type of equipment or how it might be useful in the job, they actually have the chance to try out their own skills while still in school. When the time comes for them to transition to an actual job, they have the experience they need to begin the job right away. They will not have to spend time learning how to physically operate the equipment on the job, allowing them to become a valuable employee and build a career faster.
The value of graduating with work skills
When employers look for new employees to join their institution, they know that they want to find someone who has the skills to do the job well and can adapt quickly to the work environment. Businesses spend a significant amount of money trying to onboard new employees, as they must go through a training process and anticipate that there will be a learning curve for the employee on a new job.
Vocational schools help with bridging the skills gap between work and education.
Students do not enter the work field with little practical experience regarding the tools and environments in which they will work. Instead, they have specifically worked in these situations throughout their education under the supervision of their trainers. This creates a more favorable employability skills assessment. Potential employers can look at the academic record of these students and know the type of skills they will already have when they first enter the building. This effect can be leveraged even more, when a training institution is applying a competency based training approach that is mapped with the industry’s needs.
For those interested in learning how to enhance employability skills, therefore, the first solution should lie in vocational learning opportunities. These skills can help students learn the techniques and strategies that they specifically need for this area of work and ensure that they are prepared to succeed. Employers can feel confident that the candidates they receive from a quality school already have the experience and training they need to begin work right away.
Finding a job following graduation
Many graduates struggle to find employment immediately following graduation. It can be a stressful time for many students, trying to balance their last few months of studies as they begin to submit applications and search for positions in their chosen field of work. For students who have graduated from a vocational training school, however, this situation can go a bit differently. They have the experience to list on their resume and employers know they have a significant portion of the training they need. Often they even have started building a professional network through their job placements and internships they could potentially leverage. This helps to open doors to new possibilities.
Graduates often want to know how they can enhance their employability opportunities. The answer lies in gaining the work experience that employers want to see. Bringing this experience can make it significantly easier to find a job. Experience gives employers more insight into how a candidate will perform on the job and how many resources will need to be dedicated to training a new hire for the job. For vocational students, these work experiences become part of the curriculum.
Throughout the studies, students gain hands-on opportunities through internships and practical learning opportunities. Completing real work projects, as they do in a variety of classes, helps students build employable resumes before they even graduate.
Building strong networks for students before graduating
In nearly any industry, the importance of a strong network can play a direct role in finding a job and building a successful career. Connections and relationships can help people find new jobs, learn about new opportunities, and have chances to continue their education and build more career-based skills.
Through a vocation-based education, students have an excellent opportunity to build a strong network that will enhance their learning experience and the rest of their professional careers. With a vocation-based training program, students work more closely with their fellow students and their trainers on their coursework. Since less time is spent independently researching and writing papers and more time is spent in class working on projects and learning practical skills, students naturally develop better and closer relationships with their classmates. Their fellow students transition from being people they simply sit next to in the lecture hall into partners with whom they work during projects and internships.
Similarly, students have more opportunities to get to know their professors. With skills-based training, students work more directly with their trainers. The hands-on opportunities they have to work during their coursework let them complete projects, engage with work tasks, and learn specialized techniques under the direct supervision of the trainer. Trainers are there to provide support and students have opportunities to speak with them and engage with more one-to-one time. This builds relationships and can help students find professional mentors for the transition to the business world. Through internship opportunities, students expand this relationship horizon into the work world, even before graduation.
Altogether, this type of practical classroom experience helps those learning in a vocational training program develop a strong professional network that will benefit them throughout their entire professional career. They will have people who can provide them with insight and guidance as they build a career and find the jobs they want.
Students experience economic benefits
Students who go through vocation-based schooling also have the chance to receive a variety of different economic benefits from their education.
Most importantly, they often do not have to spend as much on their schooling while still receiving an education that prepares them exceptionally well for their field. Vocational schools often have fewer years required to earn the degree of certification and often cost less in tuition each year as well.
Additionally, students who graduate from specialized programs like this can enter their career path faster. Employers know that they already have work experience and training related to their field, which makes it easier to transition into the desired role and takes less of a toll on the business working to onboard them. Students can accept more specialized jobs and earn the applicable salary as well. This combines to create a strong economic opportunity for graduates from vocational programs. Vocational graduates also tend to have a good toolset to raise through the ranks rapidly as they know the trade inside out. Another financial aspect is “earn as you learn” that many vocational training paths offer. Here students have the ability to earn some money and hence reduce the financial impact of their studies through paid internships as part of some curricula.
When it comes to educating students, the importance of building skills-based education cannot be underestimated. Students who attend schools that specialize in teaching them skills that they need to excel in a particular field will find that they finish school well-prepared to enter their chosen field. They gain on-site work experience throughout their education so the transition to the working world is minimal, helping them professionally and financially. The businesses who hire them know that they can count on their new employees to get started immediately in the field and work with a high level of independence and competency, creating a favorable experience for everyone involved.
Those interested in pursuing a vocational pathway for their education and a career in one of the many exciting trade areas these types of schools serve should carefully consider if the benefits described here will help them in their chosen field.