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What is Vocational Education?
Vocational education or Vocational Education and Training (VET), also called Career and Technical Education (CTE), prepares learners for jobs that are based in manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic and totally related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation, hence the term, in which the learner participates. It is sometimes referred to as technical education, as the learner directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques or technology.
Generally, vocation and career are used interchangeably. Vocational education might be classified as teaching procedural knowledge. This may be contrasted with declarative knowledge, as used in education in a usually broader scientific field, which might concentrate on theory and abstract conceptual knowledge, characteristic of tertiary education. Vocational education can be at the secondary or post-secondary level and can interact with the apprenticeship system. Increasingly, vocational education can be recognised in terms of recognition of prior learning and partial academic credit towards tertiary education (e.g., at a university) as credit; however, it is rarely considered in its own form to fall under the traditional definition of a higher education.
Up until the end of the twentieth century, vocational education focused on specific trades such as for example, an automobile mechanic or welder, and was therefore associated with the activities of lower social classes. As a consequence, it attracted a level of stigma. Vocational education is related to the age-old apprenticeship system of learning.
However, as the labor market becomes more specialized and economies demand higher levels of skill, governments and businesses are increasingly investing in the future 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 diversified over the 20th century and now exists in industries such as retail, tourism, information technology, funeral services and cosmetics, as well as in the traditional crafts and cottage industries.
In Australia vocational education and training is mostly post-secondary and provided through the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system by Registered Training Organisations. This system encompasses both public and private providers in a national training framework consisting of the Australian Quality Training Framework, Australian Qualifications Framework and Industry Training Packages which define the assessment standards for the different vocational qualifications.
Since the states and territories are responsible for most public delivery and all regulation of providers, a central concept of the system is "national recognition" whereby the assessments and awards of any one registered training organisation must be recognised by all others and the decisions of any state or territory training authority must be recognised by the other states and territories. This allows national portability of qualifications and units of competency.
A crucial feature of the Training Package system (which accounts for about 60% of publicly-funded training and almost all apprenticeship training) is that the content of the vocational qualifications is theoretically defined by industry and not by government or training providers. A Training Package is "owned" by one of ten Industries Skills Councils which are responsible for developing and reviewing the qualifications.
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research or NCVER is a not-for-profit company owned by the federal, state and territory ministers responsible for training. It is responsible for collecting, managing, analysing, evaluating and communicating research and statistics about vocational education and training (VET).
The boundaries between Vocational education and tertiary education are becoming more blurred. A number of vocational training providers such as NMIT and BHI are now offering specialised Bachelor degrees in specific areas not being adequately provided by Universities. Such Applied Courses include in the areas of Equine studies, Winemaking and viticulture, acquaculture, Information Technology, Music, Illustration and many more
Commonwealth of Independent States
The largest and the most unified system of vocational education was created in the Soviet Union with the Professional`no-tehnicheskoye uchilische and, Tehnikum. But it became less effective with the transition of the economies of post-Soviet countries to a market economy.
In Finland, the vocational education belongs to the secondary education. After the nine-year comprehensive school, almost all students choose either the lukio, which is an institution preparing students for tertiary education, or a vocational school. Both forms of secondary education last three years, and give a formal qualification to enter university or ammattikorkeakoulus, i.e. Finnish polytechnics. In certain fields (e.g. the police school, air traffic control person training), the vocational schools have the completed lukio as an entrance requirement, thus causing the students to complete the secondary education twice.
The education in vocational school is free, and the students from low-income families are eligible for a state student grant. The curriculum is primarily vocational, and the academic part of the curriculum is adapted to the needs of a given course. The vocational schools are mostly maintained by municipalities.
With a completed secondary education one can enter higher vocational schools (ammattikorkeakoulu, or AMK) or universities. Because the vocational school curriculum is work-oriented, its graduates often have difficulty in passing the entrance exams of the universities.
German language areas
Vocational education is an important part of the education systems in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland (including the French and the Italian speaking parts of the country) and one element of the German model.
For example, in Germany a law (the Berufsausbildungsgesetz) was passed in 1969 which regulated and unified the vocational training system and codified the shared responsibility of the state, the unions, associations and chambers of trade and industry. The system is very popular in modern Germany: in 2001, two thirds of young people aged under 22 began an apprenticeship, and 78% of them completed it, meaning that approximately 51% of all young people under 22 have completed an apprenticeship. One in three companies offered apprenticeships in 2003; in 2004 the government signed a pledge with industrial unions that all companies except very small ones must take on apprentices.
The vocational education systems in the other German speaking countries are very similar to the German system and a vocational qualification from one country is generally also recognized in the other states within this area.
New Zealand is served by 41 Industry Training Organizations (ITO). The unique element is that ITOs purchase training as well as set standards and aggregate industry opinion about skills in the labour market. Industry Training, as organised by ITOs, has expanded from apprenticeships to a more true lifelong learning situation with, for example, over 10% of trainees aged 50 or over. Moreover much of the training is generic. This challenges the prevailing idea of vocational education and the standard layperson view that it focuses on apprenticeships. The best source for information in New Zealand is through the Industry Training Federation.
Polytechnics, Private Training Establishments, Wananga and others also deliver vocational training, amongst other areas.
Vocational training in India is provided on a full time as well as part time basis. Full time programs are generally offered through I.T.I.s industrial training institutes. The nodal agency for grant the recognition to the I.T.I.s is NCVT which is under the Min. of labour, Govt. of India. Part time programs are offered through state technical education boards or universities who also offer full-time courses. Vocational training has been successful in India only in industrial training institutes and that too in engineering trades. There are many private institutes in India which offer courses in vocational training and finishing, but most of them have not been recognized by the Government. India is a pioneer in vocational training in Film & Television, and Information Technology.
The system of vocational education in the UK initially developed independently of the state, with bodies such as the RSA and City & Guilds setting examinations for technical subjects. The Education Act 1944 made provision for a Tripartite System of grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools, but by 1975 only 0.5% of British senior pupils were in technical schools, compared to two-thirds of the equivalent German age group.
Successive recent British Governments have made attempts to promote and expand vocational education. In the 1970s, the Business & Technician Education Council was founded to confer further and higher education awards, particularly to polytechnics. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Conservative Government promoted the Youth Training Scheme, National Vocational Qualifications and General National Vocational Qualifications. However, youth training was marginalised as the proportion of young people staying on in full-time education increased.
In 1994, publicly-funded Modern Apprenticeships were introduced to provide "quality training on a work-based (educational) route". Numbers of apprentices have grown in recent years and the Department for Children, Schools and Families has stated its intention to make apprenticeships a "mainstream" part of England's education system.
In the United States, vocational education varies from state to state. Roughly 70 percent of all postsecondary technical and vocational training is provided by proprietary (privately owned) career schools. The remaining 30 percent is provided primarily by two-year community colleges, which also offer courses transferable to four-year universities, military technical training, and government-operated adult education centers. Several states operate their own institutes of technology which are on an equal accreditational footing with other state universities.
Historically, junior high schools and high schools have offered vocational courses such as home economics, wood and metal shop, typing, business courses, drafting and auto repair, though schools have put more emphasis on academics for all students because of standards based education reform. School to Work is a series of federal and state initiatives to link academics to work, sometimes including spending time during the day on a job site without pay.
Federal involvement is principally carried out through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Accountability requirements tied to the receipt of federal funds under this Act help provide some overall leadership. The Office of Vocational and Adult Education within the US Department of Education also supervises activities funded by the Act.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the largest private association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for careers. Its members include CTE teachers, administrators, and researchers.
National and International organisations and agencies