Vocational education in its broadest sense prepares individuals for their primary adult activity, usually paid employment. Preparation for entry into an established occupation such as the law, nursing, construction, or teaching usually presupposes a sustained engagement with it over a period of years. Vocational education will have, as one of its primary objectives, preparation for an occupational career. In a sense, anyone who is educated and wishes to use their education as a preparation for employment undertakes education for vocational aims, even if they are not specifically inscribed in the educational program. Thus, to the extent that one needs to be literate and numerate at work, elementary education involves a vocational element. However, the vocational element of education usually grows more explicit and specialized as schooling progresses. This article examines vocational education in the high school or secondary school, the home, the college, and the workplace.
Vocational Education At School And Home: Prevocational Education
One of the aims of school education is to promote young people’s knowledge of their interests, what they are good at and what they find most worthwhile. Without such self-knowledge, it is difficult for them to choose an occupation that is suitable for them in adult life. School and home must play an important role in promoting self-knowledge through general education but also through introducing young people to the kinds of knowledge, skills, and character attributes that they may expect to need in the workplace. If they do not know what is expected of them, it is difficult to know whether they can meet those expectations. Since one of the major options that young people wish for is to establish whether practical activities in the workplace are what they are most suited to, schools need to provide a range of such practical activities. On the other hand, it is not the role of schools to provide preparation for particular jobs. Their role, rather, is to give young people a good basis on which to make their choices. Thus, they need to know the general skills needed for work in an industry, whether they are capable of developing the necessary skills and whether they have the temperament and interest to succeed in it. In other words, they need to be able to make meaningful choices about their employment futures. Essentially, this is the job of prevocational education: for a young person to find out in general terms what they are suited to and what interests them. In order to do this, though, they need specialist staff, buildings, and equipment; this does not come cheap.
Vocational Education At College Or In The Workplace
Post-school, the issues are different. Unless students are moving to higher education or on to further academic study, they are going into a form of education that is a direct preparation for work at a particular job or occupation. This type of training is properly called vocational education, and is properly so-called. Some of this vocational education can take place directly in the workplace, through a form of on-the-job training or instruction. This is usually most suitable for jobs with fairly low levels of required skills, responsibility, or theoretical knowledge. When the job requires a higher level of skill and knowledge, however, such work-based training is unlikely to be sufficient. The necessary knowledge to be applied will need to be taught in tranquil and safe surroundings and will have to be taught and practiced in safe conditions. Thus vocational education involves the acquisition of skills through classroom learning, exposure to a simulated work environment (so that skills are practiced safely), and often probationary practice, where skills are practiced under operational conditions but with supervision and occasional advice when necessary. Such complex educational processes need good organization, clear curricula, and robust and reliable assessment procedures if they are to work effectively. In many countries, such systems are formally regulated, often by the state.
Apprenticeship And Alternance
The relationship between instruction and work is central to vocational education. The traditional way of educating craftspeople has been through apprenticeship, where young people are employed as junior workers at a low wage, which reflects their current low productivity. In return, the apprentice receives instruction and training. The employer is compensated for training the apprentice by paying low wages and by obtaining a skilled worker at the end of the process; the apprentice is compensated for low wages through skill acquisition. Traditionally, apprenticeship took place within self-regulating occupational institutions called guilds, which also socialized the apprentice into the values, traditions, and ways of dealing with society and customers that formed the core of the guilds’ place in society.
Some version of the institution of apprenticeship still exists in some countries, notably the German-speaking ones, but it is at least as common to find a different approach to managing the work-classroom interface, known as alternance. Here trainees are students rather than cadet workers and spend part of their time under instruction and supervision in the workplace. On completing the program of study, the student enters the labor market, usually with a qualification.
Contingent Vocational Preparation
Such systems are to be distinguished from cases where classroom instruction or workplace training takes place for a very specific need. All workers undergo such contingent preparation at some point in their working lives, and it is clearly an important aspect of job preparation. It should, however, be distinguished from the longer term educational processes described above.
Occupational Entry And The Development Of A Career
Apprenticeship and alternance-based systems of vocational education usually prepare young people for a career within an occupation, which will consist of a series of jobs. Occupational mobility is much less common than job mobility and is often confused with it. Both alternance- and apprenticeship-based systems usually provide the novice with a wide-ranging set of occupational as well as job-specific knowledge and skill. This poses a problem for employer-based systems of vocational education, as it is certain that occupational knowledge will help to make apprentices employable in other firms within that occupational structure. Any form of vocational education that involves direct expense by the employer and includes an element of occupational and not merely job preparation runs this risk. Such systems therefore either require a degree of employer solidarity or some compulsory pooling of resources, so that training does not become an insoluble coordination problem for employers. Vocational education as opposed to job training is therefore more a matter of occupational and industrial preparation than it is preparation for a specific job and is, in that sense, preparation for a career.
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