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University or vocational training: How to choose what is right for you

Vocational Studying


University or vocational training: How to choose what is right for you

South Africa’s unemployment only seems to be getting worse and with limited university spaces, matriculants are being urged to opt for vocational training. Many people don’t, however, understand the various options available to school-leavers. Very few also don’t understand the opportunities available to those who choose to follow a vocational training path.

Vocational Training

The term vocational training refers to training that is specific to a career or a trade. This means that it focuses on the practical application of skills in the workplace. Vocational training helps you develop practical skills, it “enables you to be productive from the first day that you walk into a job,” says Barend van den Berg, MD of Oxbridge Academy.

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Van den Berg also notes that there are countless of benefits involved by choosing to pursue a vocational qualification but unfortunately, there still seems to be a misguided perception that such a qualifications counts less than a basic degree from a university. While a degree gives you a substantial theoretical knowledge in your chosen field, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the workplace.

“Although theoretical knowledge provides a foundation for further exploration and thought leadership, vocational training develops practical, immediately relevant skills which opens doors in the job market. The perception that vocational training is worth less than a degree is therefore false, as vocational learners acquire both theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills, which better equips them for workplace integration.”

Career Options

Career options in the vocational sector are virtually endless and incorporate almost all of the sectors of the economy. Vocational training is ideal for millennials that choose to move around in the workplace, often changing their careers. Vocational training gives them hand-on skills and is an accessible form of studying. They are able to earn while they learn. It is also a great option for aspiring entrepreneurs. These courses are designed to fill workplace skill gaps, meaning you have a good chance of finding a job. Most employers are familiar with these type of qualifications and also, more importantly, recognise their value.

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Research has shown that vocational careers are often high-paying positions. This is because of the high demand in South Africa for a range of skills that will allow you to earn a lucrative salary.

“Land surveyors, electrical technicians, riggers, executive assistants, HR professionals, web and software developers, and sales managers, for instance, are all positions that can be reached without a degree, and can pay between R35 000 and R75 000 per month.”

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It is ultimately important to realise that a university degree is not the only, or even the best option for everyone. Both qualifications are extremely valuable but your success is largely dependent on what you want to do with your life. Hand-on training will help you gain the skills you need to pursue a specific career or trade – vocational training should be considered. If you want to pursue a profession that requires you to earn a degree – a university education is for you.

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