Vocational training is a type of training that takes students through a skill-based curriculum. Students learn the practical aspects of a vocation which equips them with defined competencies. Career colleges or vocational schools offer programs in a wide range of fields including healthcare, computer technology, skilled trades, and office management.
When students complete vocational training, they usually have the skills to start in the job with no further training. However, many individuals feel vocational school and training are not enough. Many will take up student debt to complete formal university training in the hopes of landing a white-collar job. So, is there any value in vocational school and developing a trade? According to entrepreneur as well as successful business owner Sanjeev Mansotra, yes. Here, he shares the five main advantages of choosing vocational school and developing a trade.
Vocational school provides individuals with the opportunity to acquire a hands-on learning experience. With occupation specific training, individuals are often able to enter the workforce immediately following graduation.
In contrast, formal university education offers more theoretical than practical training. As such, someone coming from vocational school usually has a higher level of competence on day one on the job, than a fresh graduate who must go through further training. In this way, says Sanjeev Mansotra, vocational training’s extensive experience provides them with the skills they need to begin work straight away.
Assuming you want to learn how to program, you can either go through four years of computer science or go through a one-year deep-dive vocational course into programming. During the four computer science years, you will have to contend with learning other things you may not be interested in learning, such as advanced calculus. On the other hand, at a vocational school, your education will focus primarily on what you want to learn — programming. Offering this level of specialized training makes vocational schools a fast track to learning a thin layer of skills and becoming highly competent in them.
Vocational schools are also significantly less expensive than a formal post-secondary institution and can be completed in a time span of two years. For example, in 2018, a student in Minnesota paid $5,100 for a vocational course that lasted a year while a university student paid $8,700 per year for a course that lasted four years. In total, the vocational student paid $5,100, while the other student paid $34,800. Additionally, explains Sanjeev Mansotra, the vocational student entered the workforce after a year of training while the other student was still in class for three additional years.
University degrees are notorious for one thing — they do not tell you how competent a person is over time. If you earned your degree ten years ago, it means the skills you acquired then are most likely outdated. With vocational training, you can maintain relevant and current skills, whether you have a university degree or not. As industries move towards more skill-based competency tests, vocational training is becoming an important resource for those who want to remain competent and relevant in their current workplaces.
How much does a plumber make? You will be surprised. In 2019, the average plumber salary in the US is $56,183. When you consider most plumbers go through vocational school, it shows that vocational training can translate into a decent wage. The same goes for other vocational careers like electrician, welder, and others. Vocational school is important in this regard because it helps you develop a trade. Having a trade also means the skills and knowledge you have are enough for people to pay you to do specialized tasks. That is, if someone has a leaking tap, they care more about whether you can fix it than your academic accomplishments, which demonstrates the essence of vocational training.
As the global economy moves into a knowledge economy, what people know, and the skills they have will matter more than the academic papers and qualifications they have. Vocational school stands as a beachhead in the quest to remain relevant and competent in such a rapidly evolving work environment. The future, says Sanjeev Mansotra, will favor those who have the practical skills and relevant knowledge to offer tangible solutions to emerging problems, skills, and knowledge that vocation schools are uniquely qualified to provide.
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