Skills Over Intelligence: Is Vocational Training Better Than Academic Studies?

Skills Over Intelligence: Is Vocational Training Better Than Academic Studies?

The glory of going to university sung by parents and grandparents over and over again to children from a young age has been in vogue for a while now.

Going to college is perceived as the highest form of achievement while vocational training is usually seen as a last resort for those who cannot afford to go to university or those who were not accepted. But with unemployment being as common among university graduates as those who did not pursue an academic route, it seems that college is not as powerful a choice as it may once have been.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not my idea to diminish the importance of going to university but what we must change is our perception towards vocational training. The latter, defined as “training that emphasizes skills and knowledge required for a particular job function,” plays an important role for students who do not have the luxury to go to university. More than that, vocational training has enabled those who have no interest in going to college to carve a career path for themselves in an untraditional way and led them to success without the need of a university degree.

How vocational and educational training has helped lower unemployment

There have been many students who have found employment thanks to vocational training. Take Germany as an example. The country has a “dual VET-system [that] is strongly integrated into the German economy” and this country now has one of the lowest rate of unemployment. On the other hand, there are graduate and even post graduate students who are struggling to find employment or they are over qualified for their current job.

Rather than focusing all of our energies on putting a university degree on a pedestal and vocational training as a route to be discussed only when there are no other options, it is time to teach our kids how to determine the right path for themselves from a young age. The university route is perfect for those who have a specific career in mind ­− students who have their aspirations firmly set, they have the talent and their goals need to be met with academic accomplishments.

But when students are choosing to commit to so much debt due to their university loan and going to college with the belief that they will understand what they want to do once they are there, then it is time to see whether this is a good move for them or whether vocational training will serve them better to create a great future for themselves.


Vocational training becoming the game changer

Vocational training has often been perceived in a negative light but with the threat of skills becoming increasingly palpable due to the influx of people going to university, it seems that things are changing and skills are becoming more sought after. This is evident in a recent survey conducted by CBI, “the UK's premier business lobbying organization, providing a voice for employers at a national and international level” which found that, “skills shortages,” among other things, are presenting firms with “serious challenges.”

Instead of leading a competition as to which educational path is the best, many are now arguing towards an education that incorporates both academic and vocational studies. “David Stanbury, joint director of the Centre for Career Management Skills at Reading University, which incorporates project-led work placements in many of its courses” has stated how, "work is part of life and, if university is about preparing students for life, that should include holistic and vocational as well as intellectual training."

Nobody wants their children to find themselves after four years of college burdened with debt and unequipped with the right skills to be employable. Having said this, no parent wants to see their child being restricted to a select number of jobs because they were armed with only a select number of skills. The world has never been more equipped to give students the resources they require to create the career they want. The academic world has never been more competitive and vocational education has a myriad of products and materials to source what it needs. The only thing that needs to change is the idea that one path is better than the other, and only when this changes will we be able to see students creating the workforce the world needs. 

Images via Pixabay.

About the Author
Author: Maine Mine
Maine Mine is a writer and life coach who, for years, has observed the area of adult learning. She's traveled to different countries and taught hundreds of foreign students, from 6 to 60 years old, English as a Second Language (ESL).

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