What is a Vocational School?

Language and terminology can be terribly confusing when it comes to the education system in Canada. The education training vocational category is quite popular and plentiful in Canada but the label differs slightly. The term “vocation” meaning job isn’t used a lot in Canada. And the same goes for “vocational schools” or “vocational technical training”.

So what is a vocational school in Canada?

Well, let’s define “vocational school” first. Technical and vocational schools are those institutions that provide a specific specialized set of skills for a certain job, industry, etc. It’s not generally the case where vocational schools provide a broader based educational environment. This isn’t of course exclusively true – however that is the general consensus.

So if you’re a student looking through your options for an education, you might consider university education for broad knowledge and an introduction to a specific field with a gradual specialization (through post-graduate studies, etc.). Or you might consider community college for a specific career you have in mind and getting a diploma in the related field with a potential to explore/expand into related avenues. A vocational school would be the most specific and direct route to not only a specific field or industry, but a specific job as well. In that sense, vocational jobs are like trade or technical schools that essentially train you for a specific job.

This is still the case in Canada as well. However, it’s worth mentioning that many community colleges do blend their services in what would be considered vocational training. And the most recent trend in vocational tech schools is to offer up a generalized education integrated into the vocational learning program.

Technical and Vocational Schools

In Canada, trade, vocational technical training is labeled as “Private Career Colleges”. That serves to distinguish these particular institutions from their counterpart, or Public Community Colleges.

In terms of vocational schools Ontario still leads the largest concentration of these types of schools. But keep in mind that vocational courses are offered across the entire Canadian education spectrum. If you’re interested in vocational courses, or full vocational programs, don’t omit community colleges outright, but rather make a side-by-side comparison to see which fits your needs best.

Above all though, make sure that whatever vocational classes you enroll in, the vocational degrees or certifications, or diplomas that you receive upon completion of your program are completely recognized by the governing authority (Provincial/Territorial Education Ministry) and/or the job market or industry you’re pursuing a career or job in.

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