Your choices at 16
Vocational qualifications at 16
Many schools offer a range of vocational qualifications e.g. BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals to post 16 students and many more are available in colleges. By applying learning to real-life situations, these qualifications offer a more practical approach than more traditional A Level academic courses.
Different types of vocational qualifications
vocational subjects - related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care, etc. Currently called BTEC and OCR Cambridge Nationals, etc. but from September (if they are at Level 3) these will be called Applied Vocational Qualifications. These are offered in schools and colleges.
vocational courses - that lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery or plumbing. From September 2014, these will be called Tech Levels if they are Level 3 courses and are offered mostly at further education colleges.
Apprenticeships - are 'work-related' where an employer will train you for a job role. You will get paid as you learn.
Vocational Qualifications and A Levels
Applied General Qualifications and Tech Levels are the same level qualifications as A Levels - they are all Level 3 and are considered as entry requirements to many higher education courses or to employment.
Choosing a vocational qualification can be a good option if you have a job sector in mind for the future or if you would like to gain employability skills linked to a particular type of work. These courses are available in a broad range of different vocational areas.
Often, students study a vocational course alongside 1 or 2 A Level subjects.
What to expect
Applied General Qualifications, such as BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals are vocational qualifications that are designed to give students the skills they need to either move on to higher education or go straight into employment.
Students choosing a vocational route have to undertake a number of units for which they present evidence based on real-life work and studies. This allows them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in practical situations.
Find out more by exploring the vocational qualifications section.