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What is Vocational Training29th August 2012, 10:22
Vocational training is a type of education that allows students to prepare for a particular trade or craft through hands-on, practical experience. Where academic study generally involves exploring theory and abstract conceptual knowledge, vocational training positions the student in the workplace under the supervision of experienced practitioners.
Apprenticeships are an example of vocational training, mixing a minimum of 30 hours' paid work a week with study towards a work-related qualification. Vocational training is available across a wide range of subjects and industries, from engineering, construction and manufacturing to IT and communications, creative and digital media, health and social care, and more.
Vocational training can be taken at the secondary, post-secondary and further education levels. The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), which contains vocational or work-related qualifications recognised in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, defines several levels of vocational training, from entry level to level eight – but the focus is generally on levels two and three, which are pitched at GCSE A*-C level and A-Level respectively.
Qualifications within the QCF are made up of units that are worth credits. You can study units at your own pace and build these up to full qualifications of different sizes – such as a BTEC at level 2 or an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) at level three – over time. Each unit's credit value tells you roughly how long it takes to complete, with one credit representing around 10 hours of work. Every QCF qualification is made up of a number of credits: awards are 1 to 12 credits (10 and 120 hours' learning); certificates are 13 to 36 credits (130 to 360 hours' learning), and diplomas are 37 credits (370 or more hours' learning).
Vocational training is great for those who feel they learn best by 'doing' rather than studying, and vocational qualifications allow a degree of flexibility meaning you can fit your work and study around other commitments. Trainees' job prospects are vastly improved by the fact that they have undertaken work relevant to the industry in which they hope to pursue a career, and have, in the process, obtained the most up-to-date skills for it. Apprenticeships are particularly attractive because you earn a wage as you train, and, depending on your age and circumstances, may receive help towards the cost of your training from the government.
To find out more about vocational training and figure out if it's right for you, take a look at directgov.org.uk, apprenticeships.org.uk and, of course, notgoingtouni.co.uk.