Vocational education or vocational education and training (VET) is an education that prepares trainees for jobs at various levels from a craft or trade to a professional position in engineering, accounting, nursing, medicine and other health practitioners, architecture, pharmacy, law etc. Craft vocations are usually based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques.
Vocational education and Training is a form of education in which participants are provided with practical skills which will allow them to engage in careers (Vocations) involving manual or practical abilities. Some examples of careers for which people can receive vocational education and training include: aviation, mechanics, hotel management, hairstyling, plumbing, air conditioner installation, fashion design, web design and development and driving. Vocational education has diversified over the 20th century and now exists in industries such as retail, tourism, information technology, funeral services and cosmetics, as well as in the traditional crafts and cottage industries. Vocational education can be at the secondary, post-secondary level and further education level.
The term Vocational education and Training “VET” follows the 1997 UNESCO International Standard Classification of Education definition, which is education and training to “acquire the practical skills, know-how and understanding necessary for employment in a particular occupation, trade or group of occupations or trades.” It is important to note that VET is not only about knowing how to do things but also understanding why things are done in a particular way. The conceptual definition of TVET cuts across educational levels (post-primary, secondary, and even tertiary) and sectors (formal or school-based, non-formal or enterprise-based, and informal or traditional apprenticeship).
In the past, the society have been guilty of regarding Vocational Education and training as an alternative educational opportunities fit only for early school-dropout, the less academically endowed or the poor, but there are lots of evidence around that vocational education and training graduates have well-paid jobs, self-employed or taking higher education to strengthen their skill and qualification.
Vocational education and training generally takes less time to complete and also provide higher employability than graduates with professional inexperienced university degrees.
In Nigeria, vocational education is taught in some secondary and post-secondary schools. Some polytechnics are also moderately equipped to train students to acquire vocational skills.
Vocational education has a specific and practical focus, rather than the traditional academic focus in universities, and it is designed to provide people with the skills needed to start a career in an area of interest.
Learning a vocational skill can greatly help a student generate immediate income after graduation, and reduce the high dependence on white-collar job-seeking among our Nigerian youths. Vocational Schools also offer opportunities for people who are interested in switching careers, as they are equipped to work with older professional as well as younger ones.