[See also Career and Technical Education.] A vocational school, sometimes also called a trade school, career center, or vocational college, is a type of educational institution, which, depending on country, may refer to secondary or post-secondary education 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 length and focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades. 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.
- The 1990 Perkins Act defines vocational education as “organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses which are directly related to the preparation of individuals in paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.”
- Secondary vocational courses can be classified into three types: (1) consumer and homemaking education; (2) general labor market preparation; and (3) specific labor market preparation. Specific labor market preparation courses teach students the skills needed to enter a particular occupational field. Such courses can be grouped into the following occupational program areas: Agriculture;Business and office;Marketing and distribution;Health;Occupational home economics;Trade and industry (including construction, mechanics and repairs, and precision production); and Technical and communications.
- 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.
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