Vocational school
A vocational school providing vocational education
Vocational education
Vocational education or vocational education and training is an education that prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation...

, is a school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

 in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job. Traditionally, vocational schools have not existed to further education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 in the sense of liberal arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

, but rather to teach only job-specific skills, and as such have been better considered to be institutions devoted to training, not education. That purely vocational focus began changing in the 1990s "toward a broader preparation that develops the academic" and technical skills of students, as well as the vocational.


Vocational schools are sometimes called college
College (Canada)
In Canadian English, the term college usually refers to a technical, applied arts, or applied science school. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associate's degree, and bachelor's degrees.-Terminology:...

s in Canada. However, a college may also refer to an institution that offers part of a university degree, or credits that may be transferred to a university.

In Ontario, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities have divided postsecondary education into Universities, Community Colleges and Private Career Colleges. While vocational training is offered in both College systems, it is generally agreed that Private Career Colleges Colleges are better suited due to accelerated learning (Monday to Friday- 4 hours per day) , focused Curriculum(trains to the skills specific to each vocation) and smaller classes(providing stronger teacher support for all students).

In the province of Quebec, there are some vocational programs offered at institutions called CEGEP
CEGEP is an acronym for , which is literally translated as "College of General and Vocational Education" but commonly called "General and Vocational College" in circles not influenced by Quebec English. It refers to the public post-secondary education collegiate institutions exclusive to the...

's (Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel), but these too may function as an introduction to university. Generally students complete two years at a CEGEP directly out of high school, and then complete three years at a university (rather than the usual four), to earn an undergraduate degree. Alternatively some CEGEP's offer vocational training, but it is more likely that vocational training will be found at institutions separate from the academic institutions, though they may still be called colleges.

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 a vocational education is represented in forms of (professional) vocational technical school
Vocational technical school
Vocational Technical School – "Professionalno-tehnicheskoye uchilishche" are vocational education facilities established in the former Soviet Union to train qualified industrial workers and servicemen...

s often abbreviated as PTU and technical colleges (technicum).
PTU is usually a preparatory vocational education
Vocational education
Vocational education or vocational education and training is an education that prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation...

 and is equivalent to the general education of the third degree in the former Soviet education, providing a lower level of vocational education (apprenticeship). It could be compared to a trade high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

. In 1920-30s such PTUs were called as schools of factory and plant apprenticeship and later 1940s - vocational schools. Sometime after 1959 the name of PTU was established, however, with the reorganization of the Soviet educational system these vocational schools renamed into lyceums. There were several types of PTUs such as Middle City PTU and Rural PTU.
Technical college (technicum) is becoming an obsolete term for a college in the regions of Eastern Europe. Technicums provided a middle level of vocational education. Aside of technicums and PTU there also were vocational schools (Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

: Профессиональные училища) that also provided a middle level of vocational education. In Ukraine of 1920-30s technicums were a (technical) vocational institute
An institute is a permanent organizational body created for a certain purpose. Often it is a research organization created to do research on specific topics...

s, however, during the 1930-32s Soviet educational reform they were degraded in their accreditation.
Institutes were considered a higher level of education, however, unlike universities they were more trade oriented than academically. Institutes were an upper level of vocational education type schools. With the reorganization of the Soviet education system institutes are being simply replaced by universities.


The Finnish system is divided between vocational and academic paths. Currently about 47 percent of Finnish students at age 15 go to vocational school. The vocational school is a secondary school for ages 16–21, and prepares the students for entering the workforce. The curriculum includes little academic general education, while the practical skills of each trade are stressed. The education is divided into eight main categories with a total of about 50 trades. The basic categories of education are
  • Humanist and educational branch
  • typical trade: youth- and free-time director
  • Cultural branch
  • typical trade: artisan
  • The branch of social sciences, business and merchandise
  • typical trade: Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration
  • Natural Science
  • typical trade: IT worker
  • Technology and traffic
  • typical trades: machinist, electrician, process worker
  • The branch of natural resources and environment
  • typical trade: rural entrepreneur, forest worker
  • The branch of social work, health care and physical exercise
  • typical trade: practical nurse
  • The branch of travel, catering and domestic economics
  • typical trade: institutional catering worker

In addition to these categories administered by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior provides vocational education in the security and rescue branch for policemen, prison guards and firefighters.

The vocational schools are usually owned by the municipalities, but in special cases, private or state vocational schools exist. The state grants aid to all vocational schools on the same basis, regardless of the owner. On the other hand, the vocational schools are not allowed to operate for profit. The Ministry of Education issues licences to provide vocational education. In the licence, the municipality or a private entity is given permission to train a yearly quota of students for specific trades. The licence also specifies the area where the school must be located and the languages used in the education.

The vocational school students are selected by the schools on the basis of criteria set by the Ministry of Education. The basic qualification for the study is completed nine-year comprehensive school. Anyone may seek admission in any vocational school regardless of their domicile. In certain trades, bad health or invalidity may be acceptable grounds for refusing admission. The students do not pay tuition and they must be provided with health care and a free daily school lunch. However, the students must pay for the books, although the tools and practice material are provided to the students for free.

In tertiary education, there are higher vocational schools (ammattikorkeakoulu
An ammattikorkeakoulu , abbreviated amk, is a Finnish institution of higher education.- Significance :...

 which is translated to polytechnic or university of applied sciences), which give about 3-4 -year degrees in more involved fields, like engineering (see insinööri (amk)
Insinööri (amk)
Insinööri is a four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree, given by institutions called Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland . The Swedish language term is ingenjör , where "YH" is an abbreviation for "yrkeshögskola"...

) or nursing.

In contrast to the vocational school, an academically orientated upper secondary school, or senior high school teaches no vocational skills. It prepares for entering the university or a higher vocational school.


In Germany, vocational schools — Berufsschulen — have a history stretching back to the 19th century. A German Berufsschule is generally a secondary public school and does not charge tuition fees. Today they are part of the dual education system
Dual education system
A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a vocational school in one course. This system is practiced in several countries, notably Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Switzerland, but also...

 which combines apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

s in a company and vocational training in a school, both taking place over the same period of time on different days of the week or in blocks of several weeks.

As part of the dual education system, the Berufsschule is a part-time school, with students attending 8–12 45-minute lessons a week. Sometimes schooling is arranged in blocks of several weeks, in particular for trades which are only learnt by a small number of people. The rest of the students' time is spent learning at the company where they take their apprenticeship. The whole course lasts 2–-3.5 years depending on the subject taken, with the vast majority of courses lasting 3 years.

Additionally, there are two other types of vocational schools in Germany. The first one is the Berufsfachschule, a full-time secondary vocational school. These schools do not charge any tuition fees either. The course at this type of school lasts 1–3 years. This type of education prepares the students for special job trainigs. Students can also get a higher graduation at the Berufsfachschule:
zweijährige Berufsfachschule: Mittlerer Abschluss = equivalent to GCSE,
zweijährige höhere Berufsfachschule = Fachabitur = equivalent to BTEC,
dreijährige höhere Berufsfachschule or Wirtschaftsgymnasium = Abitur = A-level

The second additional type of German vocational schools is the Fachschule, a full-time or part-time post-secondary vocational school, and also most often a private school (but not in Hessen). Only graduates of a Berufsschule, with (often) a minimum of 1 year work experience after graduation, are permitted to attend this type of school. The course at a Fachschule lasts 1–2 years for full-time students and 2–4 years for part-time students, and is comparable in level to the Higher National Diploma
Higher National Diploma
A Higher National Diploma is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom. This qualification can be used to gain entry into universities, and is considered equivalent to the first or second year of a university degree course....

 in the UK.

Republic of Ireland

A vocational school in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 is a type of secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 school which places a large emphasis on vocational
Vocational education
Vocational education or vocational education and training is an education that prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation...

 and technical education; this led to some conflict in the 1960s when the Regional Technical College system was in development. Typically the schools are managed by Vocational Education Committee
Vocational Education Committee
A Vocational Education Committee is a statutory local education body in the Republic of Ireland that administers some secondary education, most adult education and a very small amount of primary education in the state...

which are largely based on city or county
Counties of Ireland
The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions used for the purposes of geographic demarcation and local government. Closely related to the county is the County corporate which covered towns or cities which were deemed to be important enough to be independent from their counties. A county...

 boundaries. Establishment of the schools is largely provided by the state; funding is through block grant system providing about 90% of necessary funding requirements.

Vocational schools typically have further education
Further education
Further education is a term mainly used in connection with education in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is post-compulsory education , that is distinct from the education offered in universities...

 courses in addition to the traditional courses at secondary level. For instance, Post Leaving Certificate
Leaving Certificate
The Leaving Certificate Examinations , commonly referred to as the Leaving Cert is the final examination in the Irish secondary school system. It takes a minimum of two years preparation, but an optional Transition Year means that for those students it takes place three years after the Junior...

which are intended for school leavers and pre-third level
Tertiary education
Tertiary education, also referred to as third stage, third level, and post-secondary education, is the educational level following the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school, secondary school, university-preparatory school...

 education students.

Until the 1970s the vocational schools were seen as inferior to the other schools then available in Ireland. This was mainly because traditional courses such as the Leaving Certificate were not available at the schools, however this changed with the Investment in Education (1962) report which resulted in an upgrade in their status. Currently about 25% of secondary education students attend these schools.


In Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 vocational schools are known as . They are part of Japan's higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 system. They are two year schools that many students study at after finishing high school (although it is not always required that students graduate from high school). Some have a wide range of majors, others only a few majors. Some examples are computer technology, fashion
Fashion, a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the current trend in look and dress up of a person...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...



In the middle ages boys learned a vocation through an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

. They were usually 10 years old when they entered service, and were first called leerling (apprentice), then gezel (journeyman
A journeyman is someone who completed an apprenticeship and was fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman had to submit a master work piece to a guild for evaluation and be admitted to the guild as a master....

) and after an exam - sometimes with an example of workmanship called a meesterproof (masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

) - they were called meester (master craftsman
Master craftsman
A master craftsman or master tradesman was a member of a guild. In the European guild system, only masters were allowed to be members of the guild....

). In 1795 all of the guilds in the Netherlands were disbanded by Napoleon, and with them the guild vocational schooling system. After the French occupation, in the 1820s, the need for quality education caused more and more cities to form day and evening schools for various trades.
In 1854, the society Maatschappij tot verbetering van den werkenden stand (Society to improve workers) was founded in Amsterdam, that changed its name in 1861 to the Maatschappij voor de Werkende Stand (Society for workers). This society started the first public vocational school (De Ambachtsschool) in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, and many cities followed. At first only for boys, later the Huishoudschool (housekeeping) was introduced as vocational schooling for girls. Housekeeping education began in 1888 with the Haagsche Kookschool in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...


In 1968 the law called the Mammoetwet changed all of this, effectively dissolving the Huishoudschool and the Ambachtsschool. The name was changed to Lagere Technische School (LTS) (lower technical school) for boys, while girls now had the right to follow one of the general vocational choices; LBO (later VBO), VMBO, MAVO, or HAVO.

United States

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, vocational schools are usually considered post-secondary schools, but in some instances may take the place of the final years of high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

. Nevertheless vocational schools are only two years of schooling. They may be public schools and as such are operated by a government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, school district
School district
School districts are a form of special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools.-United States:...

 or other officially-sanctioned group, in which case they may or may not charge tuition. Most purely vocational schools are private school
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

s; within this group they may be further subdivided into non-profit schools and proprietary schools, operated for the economic benefit of their owners. For a long time many proprietary vocational schools had a poor reputation for quality in many instances, and for over promising what the job prospects for their graduates would actually be; this has been largely corrected by more stringent regulation. The term career college is reserved for post-secondary for-profit institutions. Vocational schools have decreased severely in the United States by the replacement of offering alternative trade classes at specific schools.

Community college
Community college
A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries.-Australia:Community colleges carry on the tradition of adult education, which was established in Australia around mid 19th century when evening classes were held to help adults...

s, in addition to offering associate degrees and core courses for transfer to four-year institutions, also offer vocational classes depending on the needs of the local community.

The Association for Career and Technical Education
Association for Career and Technical Education
The Association for Career and Technical Education is the professional association of CTE educators . It is a nonprofit membership association based in the United States. Its members are primarily educators and administrators of career and technical education , which is sometimes known as...

 (ACTE) is the largest American national education association dedicated to the advancement of career and technical education or vocational education that prepares youth and adults for careers.

Many vocational schools have gone on to become some of the most prestigious universities in the world. The California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 and Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States....

are examples.

A vocational school – sometimes referred to as a trade, career or for-profit school – is a private postsecondary institution that provides professional and technical, career-specific educational programs. The schools’ education delivery focuses on providing job-specific training, not a broad, liberal arts education. Most private sector colleges or universities pay taxes yet receive no direct financial support from state governments. This differs from public, not-for-profit institutions that receive state tax support or not-for-profit private colleges that pay no taxes. Typically, the completion of a career college program ranges from doctoral and master’s degrees, to bachelor’s degrees, to associate degrees, to short-term certificates and diplomas. Career colleges are owned and operated by private individuals, private investors and public corporations.

External links

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