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What is vocational training?

Vocational training is a type of programme that focuses on hands-on work versus traditional academic exams. Ideal for students who want a practical, career-driven education,  vocational training prepares students for their desired field of work or "vocation" with the particular skill set needed for specific trades and occupations.

Why should I consider vocational training?

Compared to a traditional 4-year degree programme, vocational training is typically more affordable and takes less time to enter the work world. Vocational training candidates have the benefit of starting work faster and working while learning. Vocational courses can even be taken beside traditional courses acting as a complementary, more practical based method of learning. 

Vocational training and education is flexible, and equips participants with the underpinning knowledge, competence, tools, skills, techniques relevant to technology and science, in order to fill the requirements for a specific field of work or the features of a particular trade in the job market. Vocational training is also known as procedural knowledge.

This education system has three different stages recognised as the secondary, post-secondary and further or higher education level. These experience and qualifications can act as credits in academic institutes in the case of tertiary education.

Where can I take vocational training?

Vocational training courses are available in a variety of institutions, schools, colleges, universities and studio schools. In-house courses are also available along with modern online learning methods like e-learning. There are many online vocational courses and massive open online courses available. These may have costs to be incurred or may be free of cost. It is always wise to check with your vocational training provider as sometimes courses are publicly funded or subsidised.

Vocational training standards in the UK

In the UK, vocational courses are becoming increasingly popular as the government is taking initiatives to increase vocational training, such as the apprenticeships levy, for example.  Awards and accolades have also been introduced to provide incentives and augment education since the 1970's. The number of participants in vocational training schemes and courses has also increased in recent years.

As vocational education is linked with apprenticeships, increasing skill level and specialisation of the job market in their specific fields, it is seen as the highest level of work-based training. Apprenticeships are available in three levels known as intermediate level apprenticeships, advanced level apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships.

How much can I earn after vocational training?

Employers are likely to hold a favourable view towards those who have already put their skills into practice through vocational training, as this shows that you are likely to transition into your role more effectively when you begin.

Due to its 'on-the-job' approach to learning and the breadth of industries that vocational training covers, completion of a vocational training course is likely to leave you well prepared to begin, or continue, a well paid career in whichever sector you have honed your skills in. Here are five of the most popular vocational careers, including the average annual salary for both men and women.

Top 5 most popular vocational careers

Nurse      £26,713 
Medical technician £25,899  
Web developer £31,705  
Electrician  £31,174  
Plumber £30 536

Find out more about average salaries in the UK

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Frequently asked questions

  • Vocational training is an education system that focuses on developing practical skills required for a specific job or trade, rather than theoretical knowledge.

  • Vocational training provides individuals with practical skills and knowledge that are directly applicable to the job market. By learning specific trade skills, individuals can increase their employability and earning potential in their chosen field.

  • Vocational training provides practical skills and knowledge related to specific trades or professions, such as welding, plumbing, electrical work, automotive repair, healthcare, technology, and business administration. It often includes hands-on training opportunities, such as apprenticeships or internships, to help individuals apply their skills in real-world settings.

  • Yes, vocational training can help you gain the skills and knowledge needed to pursue careers in various industries. Additionally, vocational training can provide a more direct path to employment than traditional academic programmes, as many vocational programmes include on-the-job training or apprenticeships as part of their curriculum.

  • The main difference is that vocational training is classroom-based, while apprenticeships in the UK combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprenticeships typically involve a formal agreement between the apprentice, employer, and training provider.

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