Wednesday, 24th April 2019


For too long higher education in the UK has meant studying A-levels and degrees in traditional subjects such as Maths, English Literature, History, Science, Philosophy or languages. Quite simply, traditional subjects and the traditional qualifications and institutions are still favoured more than the modern day options. There has been an explosion of new courses in a whole variety of modern subjects, offering different types of qualifications and skills.

Vocational Qualifications, WorkmenYet it still seems that vocational qualifications are overlooked by students, perhaps because they aren’t promoted enough in schools or advertised enough by the course providers.

What are vocational qualifications?

Vocational qualifications are practical, work-based qualifications that focus on the industry-specific skills that are required by employers in that sector.

Instead of focusing on theory and academic knowledge, vocational qualifications teach the student how to carry out the tasks that will be expected in their chose field of work.

Types of vocational qualification include NVQs, BTECs, diplomas and apprenticeships.

Vocational qualifications are available at all levels, with BTECs equivalent to GCSEs and A-levels, all the way up to NVQs at all educational levels.

More and more, employers are looking for employees who have all the necessary practical skills and training, so we simply don’t understand why more value isn’t placed on vocational education.

Surely a course is far more valuable if it almost guarantees that you will fit the requirements of job descriptions at the end?

NVQs are awarded in a range of vocational subjects including:

  • Health and social care
  • Business and administration
  • Construction and property
  • Manufacturing, production and engineering
  • Food, catering and leisure

Why should I do a vocational qualification?

Vocational qualifications offer a unique education, providing work-based learning where the student receives the practical skills relevant to the career path they have chosen. Essentially, vocational qualifications give students exactly what the employers are looking for.

Sure, some university degrees offer valuable theory and practical skills, but it really does depend on each course’s syllabus. With degrees such as Medicine, Engineering or Architecture, students will be offered the practical training required for their career path. However, at the same time, a great number of courses in the social sciences or those with more broad titles only offer theoretical knowledge. Too many graduates are finding that whilst they have a degree, they still don’t fit all the requirements when it comes to job applications: they lack work experience and skills in relevant software or practical abilities.

We’re not against traditional degrees, by any means, but we do believe that they aren’t the best choice for every career path. Vocational qualifications offer an opportunity to pave a direct route to your career, with less time and money spent than with traditional three-year bachelor’s degree.

For more information on vocational qualifications and why they are a good alternative to university, take a look at the following posts:

Find out what job would suit you.