Almost two decades into the 21st century has seen a subtle shift from academic qualification as a signifier of skills: modern careers are all about competencies and experience and there’s no better way to demonstrate these to potential employers than through vocational qualifications.
Although academic qualifications are of course extremely valuable for showing success in core skills, subject theory and intellectual capability, when it comes to proving that you have the personal and practical skills for a role, vocational qualifications are extremely attractive to potential employers as they demonstrate that you are already trained to a good level of competency within a role.
Even if you have had no previously paid experience of working in a given role, gaining a vocational qualification shows that you know the basic practices of a role, have had practical experience in fulfilling the role to a good degree of competency and have evidence of being successful in it (to a given extent, depending on your level of study).
In this way, vocational qualifications offer the one thing which can help to break that age-old cycle of being unable to gain a certain role due to lack of experience and being unable to gain the experience through not landing the role – a vocational qualification breaches this impasse and can really get you into work sooner than someone who is coming from a position of no experience at all.
Vocational qualifications also offer an important means for demonstrating practical knowledge of theoretical ideas. For example, knowing and understanding the theory of health and safety protocols is one thing, but being able to apply this to the writing of a thorough risk assessment, which takes in all factors for a particular event, the specific venue and the target audience is quite another.
Whilst academic learning as part of a degree might include the how-to element for transferring learning into practice, vocational qualifications offer the underpinning theory alongside the actual experience of putting it into practice and also in evaluating the outcomes.
It is this type of practical, work-related experience which is vital to potential employers and allows you to not only be able to demonstrate and discuss your experiences and practice, but also presents you as highly professional when it comes to interviews.
Many employers also find that employees who have or are studying for vocational qualifications are additionally productive in the workplace.
There is no lost time as all the learning and evidence is done during the normal working day
It’s also true that because vocational qualifications offer that bridge between theory and practice, employees who have these qualifications offer not only expertise in what they’re doing, but also a holistic insight into why.
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