Education
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What Happens at a Vocational Training Center?

C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell

A vocational training center usually functions a lot like a blend between a school and a career counseling office: within its walls, students take lessons, practice skills and get help with finding and holding a job. This usually involves classes on all sorts of things, from actual trades to more general job skills. Students usually must also do some self-reflection about their futures, usually at the direction of a guidance counselor or job placement specialist.

Vocational training centers usually enroll students who are interested in pursuing career paths that require a lot of hands-on training. They usually focus all of their teaching energy on preparing people for a specific job, usually a trade. For this reason, a vocational college or vocational school might also be called a trade school.

Some vocational training centers are designed for students who have learning disabilities.
Some vocational training centers are designed for students who have learning disabilities.

Rather than taking a range of courses, students at a vocational training center typically study only what is necessary to do a certain job. They usually graduate with a certificate in their chosen field. Degrees usually are offered only through more comprehensive college-level programs.

Most of the time, a vocational training center is focused on one sort of job preparation. Common examples are plumbing and electrical skills, auto repair and medical technician services. Much depends on the target audience, however. Choosing a vocational training center requires some research into the center's mission and main audience.

Many vocational training centers are designed specifically for students who have learning or intellectual disabilities, for instance. These kinds of programs often focus on the creation of arts and marketable crafts or basic skills such as cash register operation and making change. Other programs are intended primarily for disadvantaged people, particularly those who have not received even a basic education. This sort of vocational training center is very popular in the developing world, and it often teaches skills such as sewing or small business enterprising.

No matter the focus, classwork makes up the bulk of what happens in a vocational training center. Students usually spend some time listening to lectures and watching demonstrations, then they have a chance to try the skills by participating in workshops. In most cases, hands-on work comprises the bulk of the learning. Students usually work under the close guidance of their instructors to master each step that is needed to perform their chosen vocation.

Each student usually will have his or her own workspace. For mechanics, this usually involves a shop bench, student in sewing classes will use a sewing machine, and so on. Students are graded and are able to advance by mastering basic steps and demonstrating understanding of foundational concepts. Some schools offer exams, and others require comprehensive projects. Much depends on the school’s main mission and structure.

Career counseling usually is also a big part of what happens in a vocational training center. Students who attend vocational skills programs almost always do so with the intention of entering a workforce. Training is an important part of getting a job, but it is often only a piece of the process. Schools often offer job hunting seminars and job placement counseling services to help graduates find meaningful work in their new field of expertise. Much of this is tailored to the individual learner or the specifics of the local market.

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    • Some vocational training centers are designed for students who have learning disabilities.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Some vocational training centers are designed for students who have learning disabilities.