Vocational school

A vocational school, sometimes also called a trade school, career center, or vocational college[1], is a type of educational institution, which, depending on the country, may refer to secondary or post-secondary education[2] designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular and specific job. In the case of secondary education, these schools differ from academic high schools which usually prepare students who aim to pursue tertiary education, rather than enter directly into the workforce. With regard to post-secondary education, vocational schools are traditionally distinguished from four-year colleges by their focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades[3], rather than providing academic training for students pursuing careers in a professional discipline. While many schools have largely adhered to this convention, the purely vocational focus of other trade schools began to shift in the 1990s "toward a broader preparation that develops the academic" as well as technical skills of their students.[4]

ITT Technical Institute campus Canton Michigan
Educational institution of this type in Canton, MI, United States


Vocational schools were called "technical colleges" in Australia[5], and there were more than 20 schools specializing in vocational educational training (VET)[6]. Only four technical colleges remain, and these are now referred to as "trade colleges". At these colleges, students complete a modified year 12 certificate and commence a school-based apprenticeship in a trade of their choice. There are two trade colleges in Queensland; Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Australian Industry Trade College and one in Adelaide, St. Patrick's Technical College, and another in Perth, Australian Trades College.

In Queensland, students can also undertake VET at private and public high schools instead of studying for their overall position (OP), which is a tertiary entrance score. However these students usually undertake more limited vocational education of one day per week whereas in the trade colleges the training is longer.


Vocational schools are sometimes called "colleges" in Canada[7]. 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, secondary schools were separated into three streams: technical schools, commercial or business schools, and collegiates (the academic schools). Those schools still exist; however, the curriculum has changed that no matter which type of school one attends, they can still attend any post-secondary institution and still study a variety of subjects and others (either academic or practical)[8].

In Ontario, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities have divided postsecondary education into universities, community colleges and private career colleges.

In the Province of Quebec, there are some vocational programs offered at institutions called CEGEPs (collège d'enseignement général et professionnel)[9], 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 CEGEPs 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.

Central and Eastern Europe

In Central and Eastern Europe[10], a vocational education is represented in forms of (professional) vocational technical schools often abbreviated as PTU and technical colleges (technikum).

Vocational school (college)

Vocational school or Vocational college ([vyshche] uchylyshche - study school) is considered a post-secondary education type school, but combines coursework of a high school and junior college stretching for six years. In Ukraine, the term is used mostly for sports schools sometimes interchangeably with the term college. Such college could be a separate entity or a branch of bigger university. Successful graduates receive a specialist degree.


PTUs are usually a preparatory vocational education and are 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. In the 1920-30s, such PTUs were called schools of factory and plant apprenticeship, and later 1940s - vocational schools. Sometime after 1959, the name 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[11].


Technical college (technicum) is becoming an obsolete term for a college in different parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Technicums[12] provided a middle level of vocational education. Aside of technicums and PTU there also were vocational schools (Russian: Профессиональные училища) that also provided a middle level of vocational education. In 1920-30s Ukraine, technicums were a (technical) vocational institutes, 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 oriented to a particular trade. With the reorganization of the Soviet education system, most institutes have been renamed as technical universities.


JAMI Lappajärvi 2015-06-18
Vocational school in Lappajärvi, Finland

The Finnish system is divided between vocational and academic paths[13]. Currently about 47 percent of Finnish students at age 16 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, media-assistant)
  • The branch of social sciences, business and merchandise (typical trade: vocational qualification in business and administration (Finnish: merkonomi))
  • Natural science (typical trade: IT worker (Finnish: datanomi))
  • 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 (Finnish: lähihoitaja))
  • 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 which is translated to "polytechnic" or "university of applied sciences"), which give three- to four-year degrees in more involved fields, like engineering (see insinööri (amk)) and nursing.

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


A vocational school in Ireland is a type of secondary education school[14] which places a large emphasis on vocational and technical education; this led to some conflict in the 1960s when the Regional Technical College system[15] was in development. Since 2013 the schools have been managed by Education and Training Boards, which replaced Vocational Education Committees which were largely based on city or 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 courses in addition to the traditional courses at secondary level. For instance, post leaving certificate courses which are intended for school leavers and pre-third level 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 Greece vocational schools are known as technical schools. They are a part of Greece's higher education system. There are three-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 Mechanic ,computer technology, A/C & Refrigeration Technician.


In Japan vocational schools are known as senmon gakkō (専門学校)[16]. They are a part of Japan's higher education system. There 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 and English.



In the Middle Ages boys learned a vocation through an apprenticeship. They were usually 10 years old when they entered service, and were first called leerling (apprentice), then gezel (journeyman) and after an exam - sometimes with an example of workmanship called a meesterproef (masterpiece) - they were called meester (master craftsman). 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 the working class) was founded in Amsterdam, that changed its name in 1861 to the Maatschappij voor de Werkende Stand (Society for the working class). This society started the first public vocational school (De Ambachtsschool) in Amsterdam, 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[17].

In 1968 the law called the Mammoetwet[18] changed all of this, effectively dissolving the Ambachtsschool and the Huishoudschool. The name was changed to LTS (lagere technische school, lower technical school), where mainly boys went because of its technical nature, and the other option, where most girls went, was LBO (lager beroepsonderwijs, lower vocational education). In 1992 both LTS and LBO changed to VBO (voorbereidend beroepsonderwijs, preparatory vocational education) and since 1999 VBO together with MAVO (middelbaar algemeen voortgezet onderwijs, intermediate general secondary education) changed to the current VMBO (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, preparatory intermediate vocational education).

United States

In the United States, there is a very large difference between career college and vocational college. The term career college is generally reserved for post-secondary for-profit institutions. Conversely, vocational schools are government-owned or at least government-supported institutions, occupy two full years of study, and their credits are by and large accepted elsewhere in the academic world and in some instances such as charter academies or magnet schools[19] may take the place of the final years of high school.

Career colleges on the other hand are generally not government supported in any capacity, occupy periods of study less than a year, and their training and certifications are rarely recognized by the larger academic world. In addition, as most career colleges are private schools, this group may be further subdivided into non-profit schools and proprietary schools, operated for the sole economic benefit of their owners.

As a result of this emphasis on the commercialization of education, a widespread poor reputation for quality was retained by a great number of career colleges for over promising what the job prospects for their graduates would actually be in their field of study upon completion of their program, and for emphasizing the number of careers from which a student could choose.

Even though the popularity of career colleges has exploded in recent years, the number of government-sponsored vocational schools in the United States has decreased significantly[20].

The Association for Career and Technical Education (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.

Earlier vocational schools such as California Institute of Technology[21] and Carnegie Mellon University have gone on to become full degree-granting institutions.

See also

  • Vocational university – An institution of higher education and sometimes research, which provides tertiary and sometimes quaternary education and grants professional academic degrees


  1. ^ "What are Vocational Schools?". Study.com. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  2. ^ "Vocational Education in the US". nces.ed.gov. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  3. ^ "Skilled Trades in Demand (Infographic)". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  4. ^ "Information Literacy in Vocational Education: A Course Model". White-Clouds.com. 2 Sep 2006.
  5. ^ "Technical and Further Education (TAFE) | Study in Australia". Studies in Australia. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  6. ^ "Vocational education and training | Department of Training and Workforce Development". www.dtwd.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  7. ^ "Canadian Vocational Schools & Training Programs". www.vocationalschools.ca. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  8. ^ Ontario, Government of. "Secondary Education". www.edu.gov.on.ca. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  9. ^ "Quebec CEGEPs, colleges and high schools". Applying to Undergraduate Studies. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  10. ^ "Vocational Education and Training throughout Europe". www.schooleducationgateway.eu. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  11. ^ "Vocational-technical schools". www.encyclopediaofukraine.com. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  12. ^ Eklof, Ben; Holmes, Larry Eugene; Kaplan, Vera (2005). Educational Reform in Post-Soviet Russia: Legacies and Prospects. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780714657059.
  13. ^ "26 Amazing Facts About Finland's Unorthodox Education System". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  14. ^ "Irish Education System". Department of Education and Skills. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  15. ^ "Regional technical college in Cork is upgraded to institute". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  16. ^ "What is a Professional Training College (Senmon Gakko)?|神奈川県川崎市の日本語学校|(CBC)外語ビジネス専門学校(東京・横浜近郊)". www.cbcjpn.jp. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  17. ^ "Vocational education and training (VET) — Nuffic English". www.nuffic.nl. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  18. ^ "Mammoetwet van 1968". IsGeschiedenis (in Dutch). 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  19. ^ America, Magnet Schools of. "What are Magnet Schools – Magnet Schools of America". magnet.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  20. ^ Rich, Motoko. "Vocational Schools Face Deep Cuts in Federal Funding". Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  21. ^ Goodstein, Judith (1998-06-29). "History of Caltech". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 2007-11-19.

External links

Acıbadem University

Acıbadem University is a private, non-profit institution, founded in 2007 and located in Istanbul, Turkey. The University is supported by the financial resources of the Kerem Aydınlar Foundation, set up by Mehmet Ali Aydınlar, a leading Turkish businessman, the largest shareholder and the CEO of the Acıbadem Healthcare Group, which is Turkey's leading healthcare institution and founded in 1992.

Anadolu University

Anadolu University (Turkish: Anadolu Üniversitesi) is a public university in Eskişehir, Turkey. The university is ranked by Times Higher Education among the best in Turkey.

Aydın Adnan Menderes University

Adnan Menderes University (In Turkish: Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi) was founded in Aydın, Turkey in 1992. The name of the university comes from the former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.

Balıkesir University

Balıkesir University (Turkish: Balıkesir Üniversitesi) is a public university in Turkey. It was established in 1992.

China University of Technology

China University of Technology (CUTe; Chinese: 中國科技大學) is a private university in Taipei, Taiwan. The original campus is situated in Taipei's Wenshan District on five hectares of land. Since 2000, the owner has opened a second campus on 14 hectares of land in the Hukou township of Hsinchu County, Taiwan.

Gazi University

Gazi University (Turkish: Gazi Üniversitesi) is a public university primarily located in Ankara, Turkey.

It was established in 1926 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as Gazi Teacher Training Institute. In 1982, it was reorganized by merging with the Bolu Academy of Engineering and Architecture, Ankara Academy of Economics and Commercial Sciences, the Ankara College of Technical Careers, the Ankara Girls' College of Technical Careers, and the Ankara State Academy of Engineering and Architecture to become a large metropolitan university as part of the act which created the Board of Higher Education. Prior to 1982 when the Board of Higher Education Law came into effect, institutes of higher education in Turkey were organized under different structures as universities, academies, institutes, and schools. In 1992 faculties and vocational schools in Bolu became Abant Izzet Baysal University.

Gazi University comprises 21 faculties, 4 schools, 11 vocational schools of higher education, 52 research centers and 7 graduate institutes. The student enrollment of Gazi University has reached approximately 77,000 in total of whom about 1,500 come from the Turkic states of Central Asia. Five thousand students are enrolled in graduate programmes. The total size of the teaching faculty exceeds 3,000 persons.

Istanbul Gelisim University

Istanbul Gelisim University (Turkish: İstanbul Gelişim Üniversitesi), is a private non-profit university in Istanbul, Turkey. Gelisim Education, Culture, Health, and Social Service Foundation took steps in the direction of establishing a vocational school under the name of “Istanbul Gelisim Vocational School” in 2008.

Maplewood High School (Toronto)

Maplewood High School (locally known as Maplewood HS, MHS, or Maplewood, formerly Maplewood Vocational School) is a specialized public vocational high school managed by the Scarborough Board of Education when it was passed on to the Toronto District School Board upon amalgamation in 1998.

Milwaukee Area Technical College

Milwaukee Area Technical College (or MATC) is a public two-year vocational-technical college based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. MATC offers day, evening, and weekend classes at campuses in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, West Allis, and Mequon. Enrollment is about 35,000. MATC offers over a dozen accredited associate degrees, as well as well over a hundred vocational licenses, job training certificates, and adult enrichment courses. MATC also runs GED and HSED classes at local community-based organizations and offers high school diplomas through its Adult High School program.

One of MATC's educational outreach programs is the operation of two PBS stations serving southeastern Wisconsin. The stations, WMVS channel 10 and WMVT channel 36, are known collectively as Milwaukee PBS. In 1992, in partnership with Zenith Corp. and AT&T, Channel 10 produced the nation’s first test broadcast of a digital television signal. In March 2000, the station became the first in Wisconsin to begin regular broadcast of digital, high-definition programs. MATC entered the wireless digital era in 2003, becoming the first college in Wisconsin to provide wireless Internet service throughout all campuses.Milwaukee Area Technical College traces its roots to a 1911 Wisconsin law whose purpose was to encourage young adults who dropped out of high school to work full-time to continue their education part-time. Employers were required to allow workers to attend and students could participate in the evenings.

In 1912, the Milwaukee Continuation School opened near Mason Street and the Milwaukee River. Its name was changed to the Milwaukee Vocational School in 1916 as trade skills were emphasized. Enrollment grew quickly and by 1923 a new six-story building was completed at 6th & State Street. In 1968, it combined with the Milwaukee Institute of Technology to become Milwaukee Technical College. The following year, it merged with the other vocational schools in the metropolitan area to form Milwaukee Area Technical College, which became a member of the statewide Vocational, Technical and Adult Education System (now the Wisconsin Technical College System).

Monmouth County Vocational School District

The Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD) is a vocational and technical public school district in Monmouth County, New Jersey. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's nine schools had an enrollment of 1,636 students and 215.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.59:1.Monmouth County Vocational School District has 15 learning environments. The shared time programs located in Aberdeen Township, Freehold Township, Hazlet Township, Keyport, Long Branch, Middletown Township and Wall Township provide students with trade field experience.

Many of the academies provide students with academic and professional field experience. In addition, MCVSD manages three specialty schools for students at risk as well as the MCVSD Law Enforcement Program for students interested in a career in Law Enforcement.

Murrell Dobbins Vocational School

Murrell Dobbins Career & Technical Education High School, also known as Murrell Dobbins Vocational High School, is a historic vocational school building located in the West Lehigh neighborhood of North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It is part of the School District of Philadelphia. The building was designed by Irwin T. Catharine and built in 1936–1937. It is a six- to seven-story, 14-bay, brick building in the Moderne-style. It has a one-story, stone front building. It features brick piers with terracotta tops and the building has terra cotta trim.It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.The school is the home of the Mustangs and the school colors are Flame and Steel. Murrell Dobbins offers seven CTE programs: Barbering, Business Education, Commercial & Advertising Arts, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Fashion Design and Plumbing. Dobbins athletics consist of Football, Cross-Country, Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Indoor Track, Bowling, Cheerleading, Badminton, Baseball, Softball and Outdoor Track.

Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School

Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School also known as Northeast Metro Tech or The Voke is a regional vocational school located in Wakefield, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1968 and draws students from the cities and towns of Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Woburn and Saugus.

The number of students each city or town sends is dependent on its population and the amount of money it contributes to the budget of the school. The City of Malden is the largest contributor of students, Chelsea is the second largest contributor, and Woburn is the third. Also, students from Everett, Lynn, Lynnfield and Medford, which border the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District, may attend the school if they apply and are approved.

The football team has recently won back-to-back Division 4A State Championships in 2009 and 2010.

Pamukkale University

Pamukkale University (PAU), founded in 1992 in Denizli in the Denizli Province of Turkey, has 45,000 students and 1400 academicians.

Parkway Center City High School

Parkway Center City High School is a historic vocational school located in the Callowhill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is part of the School District of Philadelphia. The building was built in 1925–1927 and is a brick building in the Academic Gothic-style.The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as the Helen Fleischer Vocational School.

Selçuk University

Selçuk University (Turkish: Selçuk Üniversitesi) is state-owned higher educational institution, which was founded 1975 in Konya, Turkey.

Sir William Osler High School

Sir William Osler High School is a high school in Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, named after Sir William Osler, a Canadian doctor and medical educator.

Tabor Park Vocational School

Tabor Park Vocational School (Tabor Park HS/VS, TPVS or Tabor) is a former public and vocational high school established in 1965 until 1986 to meet the needs of the large baby boom generation in the newly and rapidly developing area of the city operated by the Scarborough Board of Education until its merger with the Toronto District School Board in 1998. The motto of the school is Forward Step by Step.

Tzu Hui Institute of Technology

Tzu Hui Institute of Technology (Chinese: 慈惠醫護管理專科學校; pinyin: Cíhuì Yīhù Guǎnlǐ Zhuānkē Xuéxiào) is a private university in Nanzhou Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan.

Vocational university

The University of Applied Sciences (UAS), as is generally known Vocational University, Polytechnic university or called Professional University, Applied Technological University, College of Higher Vocational Studies, is an institution of higher education and sometimes research, which provides both tertiary and sometimes quaternary education and grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and sometimes doctorate) in a variety of subjects.

In some countries, a vocational university more precisely grants professional degrees like professional bachelor's degree, Professional master's degree and Professional doctorates. The term is not officially used in many countries and an assignment to a certain type of university in a certain country's educational system is therefore difficult. The UK once had a very extensive vocational university sector with its polytechnic system dating back to the mid 19th century. Vocational universities are often regulated and funded differently (for example, by the local government rather than the state) from research-focused universities, and the degrees granted are not necessarily interchangeable.

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