The education system in the United States is highly focused on academic courses such as English, math and social studies that are aimed at preparing students for study at four-year colleges and universities. Vocational training, which is also known as career and technical education, focuses on learning skills related to a specific vocation or trade.
One of the advantages of vocational training is that it focuses on practical skills that students can put to use in a job immediately. Vocational training programs typically focus on teaching students how to perform the tasks that would be required of them in the workforce in various fields, such as auto maintenance, carpentry and medical assistance. Because the training is specifically related to their fields, students often find jobs easier than people with general academic backgrounds.
Another benefit of vocational training is that training programs can prepare students to enter the workforce more quickly than many academic education programs. Many high schools offer vocational training programs that enable students to gain practical skills before reaching adulthood. In addition, technical colleges often offer programs that prepare students for specific career fields in two years or less, which is a significantly smaller commitment than attending a four-year college. Getting into the workforce faster means students can start earning income and saving sooner.
Vocational training programs tend to be less expensive than longer academic educational programs; therefore, they result in considerably less debt and greater freedom with income. According to the College Board, the average cost of attending a private four-year college during the 2013 to 2014 school year was $30,094; a public four-year school cost $8,893 for in-state students. In contrast, the average two-year program at a public school cost $3,264. In addition, vocational training programs offered through public high schools allow students to gain practical work skills without having to pay tuition. High school students may still benefit from vocational training even if they intend to pursue a traditional college degree as skills learned may grant opportunities for seasonal, such as summer, employment.
Students benefit differently from different types of instruction. Some students are able to learn easily through reading, discussion and lecture while others may excel at learning through hands-on training, experimentation and trial and error. Vocational training focuses on hands-on activities, which can be beneficial for students that prefer active experiences to more passive activities.