Vocational training focuses on imparting a certain set of skills for an individual to achieve a specific job or trade. Although traditional pedagogical structure remains significant in the expansion of an individual’s theoretical understanding of a subject, in these changing times providing the right skill has challenged the conservative codes of education.
Vocational training has more than one advantage: it not only helps an individual to be self-sufficient or self-employed, it also decreases mass unemployment. While traditional courses follow a classroom setup, vocational courses are long internships and on-site learning with a master-apprentice role of teacher-student relationship where skills are passed down to the next generation. Through vocational training, the specific function of the task which was only an idea or theory in the mind turns into an understanding of how it actually happens and what can be done to make the ‘theoretical knowledge’ more practically applicable.
Vocational training, according to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), can be further understood as a way to prepare an individual for the real world. For the economic growth of a country, vocational training is vital. Enterprises demand immediate problem solving and clarity in the hands-on perusal of skillsets to reduce their investment of time and money in training an individual.
In specific sectors, a graduate or an under-graduate program can be costly, and mostly unnecessary. Entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Barry Diller, and Henry Ford are examples of highly skilled dropouts, who thrived based on their practical knowledge and experience in learning. Vocational courses now make it easier for students who need not spend a fortune and can financially support themselves while at it. With the current unemployment rate in India at 7.06 per cent amidst the pandemic, self-sustainable options must be explored. These vocational training, based on skill and interest, can range between pottery, horticulture, organic farming and other motor skills-based learning, for which a certified course is mostly a wastage. Online vocational courses can redeem this burden, thus also boosting the economy.
However, there are several myths around these vocational courses that need to be debunked. These myths not just lessen the interest around them, they are most of the time completely unfounded:
1. Vocational courses are for students with lower academic achievements. / These courses are crafted based on a student’s specific interest. The course certainly determines the flexibility of a pupil, but it also enriches a craft that a student is keen to explore. The course possesses the capability to help them make a revenue out of it.
2. Vocational Course will not aid well-paid jobs: Most companies and enterprises currently rely on experience over a formal degree. Bringing a specific skill set to the table thus reducing the time taken to compartmentalize the applicants.
3. Vocational training courses are the last choice: This one is completely unfounded as a student can study for a formal 3 or 4-year course and simultaneously enroll for a vocational course to enhance their resumé. Pragmatic experience can only add to a student’s maturity, making them more self-sufficient.
In a 2013 study, it was found that vocational training played a significant role in the economic development for several developed Asian countries but not as much in developing countries such as India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This is mostly due to lack of proper vocational institutions and resources. This shows that vocational training needs to be given the same importance as any formal educational sector.
In a country such as Switzerland, vocational training is an integral part of the education system. There it is ensured that a balance between classroom learning and hands-on experience is always maintained.
However, there are many companies that implement training programs. The main aim of such companies is that the individual gets a broader understanding of the organization, which helps them to become an overall effective employee. Companies benefit from this approach because a better-qualified workforce leads to higher productivity and hence better innovation capabilities.
In a rapidly changing world, there is no one way to achieve success. Having a set of skills and being specifically trained in it can be beneficial for recruitment. In a country like Germany, vocational training is an essential basis for the country's strong economy. One of the important foundations for their success is the continual training of skilled workers in the German dual vocational and educational training system. The training is done in a seventy to thirty per cent ratio, where seventy per cent of their time is spent doing hands-on work, and the rest thirty is regulated by vocational education and training.
Although there is an increase in vocational training in South Asian countries, this must not mean that the quality should be in decline. Governments in developing countries can rethink the policies in place to create better programs that respond to the market requirements. Vocational training can bridge the gap between the severe lack of skilled workforce by providing individuals with skills that are marketable and ready to serve.