Career Development

Vocational Training Programs in Canada

April 2, 2021

There are various types of training you can pursue to advance your career, and vocational training is perfect for people who want to focus on practical skills. In this article, we explore the meaning of vocational training, the different types you can pursue, its benefits and available career paths after training.

What is vocational training?

Vocational training is an initiative designed to teach career-specific skills to students for a broad range of occupations. Each program focuses on one industry or career, giving students specific skills they can apply in the workplace. Vocational training institutions provide students with options to enroll for a degree, apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, certificate or diploma program. Online vocational training programs are desirable to students who need a convenient and flexible training option. Vocational training involves:

  • lab-based training
  • externship/internships
  • in-class training
  • clinical rotations/practicums

Types of vocational training

Secondary schools, both private and public colleges and universities, and apprenticeships all offer vocational training programs. Different people pursue vocational training at varying points of their careers. Here are some types of vocational training you can pursue:

Secondary school vocational training programs

Secondary level vocational programs typically take about two years. During this time, optional courses are available so students can choose specialized topics that prepare them for post-secondary colleges and universities, or immediately join the job market. In most cases, students complete their vocational training at this level while pursuing a high school diploma.

Apprenticeship programs

Apprenticeship programs typically last four years. This is a type of vocational training where a trainee receives the practical experience of a workplace and theoretical educational component at the same time. Commonly practiced in highly skilled professions, an apprenticeship allows a student to acquire industry skills while being compensated for working. In most cases, apprenticeship programs result in certification, likely a diploma or degree.

On-the-job training

Employers expect to hire candidates who not only have the interest to work but also possess the trade skills required to perform the job. Therefore, one needs to register for on-the-job training programs to acquire knowledge and skills in their chosen trade. On-the-job training is usually offered by employers or third-party companies.

Computer skills, soft skills such as working in a team and communications skills are the general employment skills that companies provide. Additionally, some companies may hire a third-party company to train employees on job-specific skills. While apprenticeship involves classroom instruction, on-the-job training typically focuses on the practical approach. New employees are usually paired with the most experienced team members for this type of training.

Post-secondary vocational training programs

Also referred to as trade schools, post-secondary schools offer varying courses and programs for individuals desiring to enter technical fields. Programs vary in length from six months to four years. Some post-secondary vocational training programs cater to working individuals as they offer evening and weekend classes. Post-secondary vocational training awards certificates, diplomas and many cases bachelor degrees. Post-secondary vocational training programs lead to many career possibilities including:

Health care

A health care career can be desirable to individuals who are interested in helping the community, discovering types of illness and helping patients recover from illness. Working in healthcare involves working in one of the most stable and expansive occupation sectors in Canada. Healthcare has a variety of different roles including:

  • cardiology technologist
  • medical assistant
  • massage therapist
  • pharmacy technician
  • medical administrator
  • veterinary assistant
  • medical laboratory assistant
  • physical therapist assistant

Business

Millions of businesses operate across a range of industries. These careers are desirable to individuals who wish to be administrative assistants, payroll administrators, accounting specialists and others falling under the business category.

Skilled trades

HVAC technicians, carpenters, electricians, repair technicians, mechanics and construction workers can build their success in the skilled trade sector. Skilled trades typically demand hands-on skills learned from vocational training programs.

Beauty and cosmetology

Vocational graduates who have acquired skills in personal care can easily integrate into the beauty and cosmetology industry. They can work as nail technicians, hairstylists and estheticians.

Human services

Vocational training in human services can be desirable to individuals who have an interest in helping others overcome or cope with challenges. People living with a disability, behavioural addictions, substance abuse and mental illness require vocational trainee graduates in this sector to affect their lives.

Legal services

Skills earned through vocational training have recently been in demand in the legal services and criminal justices. Successful graduates can work as legal assistants, paralegals, law enforcement officers and security officers.

Media arts and design

The creative industry vocational graduates work as artists, graphic designers, interior designers, entertainers, audio engineers, filmmakers and animators.

Other career fields may include culinary services, teaching, early childhood and technology.

Tech high school education

Tech high schools normally specialize in teaching mathematics, engineering, applied economics, technology and science. Learning instruction focus on hand-on-learning skills to prepare students for high-tech careers.

Distance learning programs

Virtual studies are the right option for individuals who want to complete vocational training and can't attend classes in-person. Some virtual learning courses make it possible for students to learn at their own pace by working on their own time. However, some courses require that students log in during a specified time where an instructor is present. While distance learning might be more affordable and flexible, students must research the course to ensure it's an accredited institution. Some careers to pursue through distance learning programs include:

  • interior design
  • bookkeeping
  • teaching
  • early childhood education
  • daycare management
  • cleaning
  • graphic design
  • web design
  • computer programming

Professional courses

Professional courses are non-degree courses taken by individuals hoping to advance their careers. Seeking to meet an organization's specific qualifications is one key reason people take professional courses. Others take them to expand on their existing skills or learn a new skill.

The benefits of vocational training

  • Career-focused learning: vocational training provides education focused specifically on career skills and knowledge, unlike traditional colleges or universities. In some programs, trainees can acquire red seal certifications and licenses related to their professions.
  • Ready for jobs programs: by choosing vocational training, students can easily transition into the job market. Unlike the traditional learning methods, vocational training eliminates general courses to focus on the specific job skills that allow graduates to move directly from the classroom into the workforce.
  • Refined curricula: vocational training programs are developed by direct input from industry employers. Therefore, the curricula are regularly updated to produce skills and knowledge according to industry demands.
  • Availability of funding: Canada offers incentives and government grants for vocational training courses.

Jobs you can land with vocational training

Healthcare assistants care for patients in hospitals and medical centers. They work under the supervision of a qualified nurse to perform a spectrum of duties. They include bathing patients, recording test results, feeding patients and clinical duties.

According to Indeed Salaries, a healthcare assistant's average salary is $21.76 per hour, depending on location, education, experience and company.

The primary duties of an HVAC technician include repairing, performing installation and troubleshooting heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Most HVAC technicians train in all three systems, but some choose to specialize in just one. They need to complete their secondary education followed by a three- to five-year apprenticeship program that demonstrates experience in the role.

According to Indeed Salaries, an HVAC technician's average salary is $30.22 per hour, depending on the location, company and experience.

Junior chefs use their creativity to design menus, prepare ingredients and cook meals. The primary duties may include assisting the chef with production and orders, maintaining kitchen cleanliness, meeting dietary requirements and operating kitchen equipment. Junior chefs can get trade certificates from culinary vocational training centres available in every province and territory in Canada.

According to Indeed Salaries, a Junior chef's average salary is $43,522 per year, depending on location, experience, education and company.

Film producers need to begin their careers as broadcast production assistants through an apprenticeship program. A solid understanding of film techniques and several years of experience are necessary for this profession. Primary duties may include casting, sourcing materials and approving changes for film production.

According to Indeed Salaries, a Film producer's average salary is $28.88 per hour, depending on factors such as location, experience, education and company.

Primary duties may include writing patient reports, creating recreational plans and helping patients perform recreational activities. Recreational therapists also need vocational training to be certified.

According to Indeed Salaries, a Recreational Therapist's average salary is $22.50 per hour, depending on factors such as company, location, experience and education.

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