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7 minute read

Could Vocational Training Help You Level Up in Your Career?

A university degree may open many professional doors, but today’s fast-paced work environment demands for our knowledge to be constantly renewed to remain relevant and achieve career success. We take a closer look at vocational training, and how it might provide the career boost that mid-careerists need.

What Is Vocational Training?

Vocational training refers to short courses or programmes that teach specialised or technical skills required in a specific occupation or job function. If you learn better from more hands-on or personalised lessons, you might be more suited for vocational training. This type of instruction allows you to gain relevant work skills and knowledge, giving you a head start in your field, particularly in terms of experience.

For instance, a Broadcast Journalism degree may introduce various subjects such as Newswriting, Creative Writing, Marketing, Advertising, and Production, providing a broad view of the industry. With a degree, you may be qualified to apply for marketing roles, but there could remain a gap in the comprehensive set of skills you need to thrive in the field.

Vocational education can help you bridge that gap, taking you from a jack of all trades to a master of the area you choose to study, and arming you with the relevant skills you need to succeed in your chosen career.

Enrolling in a certificate programme can be a good supplement to your degree. Unlike in most universities, where you learn broad and theoretical knowledge that may or may not be related to your future job role, a certificate program allows you to gain the technical skills and knowledge you will need for a specific job.

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Advantages of Vocational Training

Gone are the days when vocational education is viewed as a last resort or a dead-end option. At the World Vocational and Technical Education Development Conference, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing stated that anticipating, adapting, and advancing are part of the long-term vision for vocational education. The goal is to constantly evolve your skills with lifelong learning for today’s fast-paced global economy.

In Singapore, vocational education has created more opportunities for students and mid-careerists alike to acquire new skills and knowledge. Short but comprehensive, it imparts the necessary skill set for competence in various fields. It also presents advantages that increase employability and career success.

Affordable and efficient

Obtaining a university degree still has its perks. It exposes you to the different career possibilities in your chosen field and allows you to explore your potential in many ways. However, if you are determined to take on a specific career path or are looking for a more affordable educational option that still guarantees employability, then vocational training is for you. It can help save you time and money while directing your energy towards a more definite set of skills and knowledge.

Allows you to enter the workforce earlier

Vocational training is relatively shorter than college programs, as they are more targeted and concise, focusing on the skills needed for a distinct occupation. It prepares you for the workforce within a much shorter time span.

Focus on practical skills and job-readiness

As it focuses on hands-on training, vocational training dives right into what you must do in a specific job, giving you the relevant skills and experience you will need to flourish in the workplace.

Adaptable and flexible

A college education may be a privilege that is not always accessible. Vocational education enables those who need more flexibility (both in terms of time and money) to get reliable training while balancing other personal or work obligations.

Promotes skills development

If you’re already working, vocational training allows you to upskill and advance in your career. It helps you further specialise in a specific field, gain skills and knowledge for career changes, or build your portfolio for higher positions.

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Types of Vocational Training

High School Career and Technical Education

Exposes students to different career paths, allowing them to discover more about industry-specific work and the skills needed to pursue it.

Tech Prep Education

Helps students transition from a school to a work environment. It is usually recommended for tech-related careers, to equip students with academic knowledge and technical skills relevant to the field. Such training focuses on:

  • Applied Economics
  • Science
  • Health
  • Engineering
  • Technology

Postsecondary Vocational Education

Provides industry-specific knowledge and skills. The duration may vary depending on the institution and level of certification. You can earn a degree, diploma, or certificate. Here are some examples of career paths with vocational courses available:

  • Carpentry
  • Massage Therapy
  • Cosmetology
  • Business
  • Teaching
  • Healthcare
  • Art and Design
  • Legal
  • Real Estate
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Technology (Software Design, Computer Programming, et cetera)
  • Administration

Apprenticeship Programmes

Typically a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training, these programs allow students to earn while learning and immersing in a specific job. While internships are often unpaid and do not guarantee a permanent role in the company after, apprenticeships are basically on-the-job training and are typically compensated, serving as a stepping stone to employment.

Distance Learning Programmes

Contrary to a traditional learning setup where both the students and teachers are physically present in the classroom, distance or asynchronous learning is conducted purely online. This flexible learning method follows a student’s pace and availability in completing a program, hence benefitting part-time students who may have other personal or professional commitments. This remote setup makes it possible to acquire certificates from top universities regardless of geography.

Sample Jobs for Vocational Training Graduates

  1. Dental Assistant: The tasks of a dental assistant can include assisting dentists to carry out dental treatments, creating an inventory of the stocks, and upholding equipment cleanliness and maintenance.
  2. Administrative Assistant: Administrative assistants oversee the filing and organising of company documents and providing overall support for daily office needs. They are also responsible for managing and distributing information, or other duties like answering phone calls, scheduling meetings, and composing and disseminating memos, letters, etc.
  3. Assistant Teacher: In this job, you must support the teacher in creating a safe learning environment for students. You will participate and contribute to lesson planning, preparation, and application of different learning activities. Teaching assistants are usually required in early childhood learning institutions or universities.
  4. Computer Programmer: Writing, modifying, testing, and updating program codes for software functions are part of a computer programmer’s job description. You will also be tasked to maintain and troubleshoot different software applications.
  5. Digital Marketer: Digital marketers manage a brand’s digital channels, generating leads and increasing brand awareness. They are responsible for a brand’s online presence and consumer relations by working on effective marketing campaigns.
  6. Automotive Mechanic: Auto mechanics ensure cars run smoothly by carrying out inspections of vehicles, routine maintenance, and repair jobs.
  7. Maintenance Technician: As a maintenance technician, you will oversee the maintenance and inspection of different equipment. You would be in charge of the upkeep of the facility you work in and may have to work on repairs when necessary.

Where to Enrol for Vocational Training?

There are several institutions in Singapore that offer diploma or certificate courses. The key is to search for the one that best aligns with your career goals. Here are some to jumpstart your search.

SIM Global Education: The Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) provides skills-based learning experiences and opportunities to upskill and empower professionals. They boast of partnerships with different reputable universities to support lifelong learning.

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts: The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) offers a variety of diploma courses in the vast creative field. They have been providing high-quality education with an innovative curriculum since 1938.

PSB Academy: Also known as “The Future Academy”, PSB Academy paves the way for youth to carve an engineering career. The school offers certificates and diplomas in engineering foundation, and mechanical and electrical engineering.

Spectra Secondary School: This school works closely with the Institute of Technical Education to provide a quality education focusing on real-work experience for its students.

Institute of Technical Education (ITE): The ITE is the primary provider of career and technical education in Singapore. It offers three key programmes, namely:

  • Pre-employment Training for the Youth after Secondary Education
  • Continuing Education and Training for Adult Learners
  • Workplace Learning and Work-Study Programmes with Employers

Regardless of the type of training you choose, never forget that your ability to adapt and grow is the key ingredient to career success. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn, be it in university, vocational training, or at work. Upskilling and reskilling will ensure you maintain your professional relevance and achieve greater heights in your career.

This article is contributed by Jobstreet

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