Industry & academia

The role of vocational training and apprenticeships in closing the skills gap

Dive into the critical skills gap issue jeopardizing industries. Explore the roles of career advisors, vocational training, and apprenticeships in closing the gap. Uncover the pros and cons of vocational paths, including surprising downsides. Consult a career advisor for personalized guidance in navigating the ever-changing job market landscape.

May 16, 2023

The skills gap refers to the disparity between the skills employers require to fill positions, and the experience job seekers offer. We are facing a growing skills gap that threatens several industries if millions of jobs remain unfilled. It is an all-hands-on-deck situation with employers, schools, and universities working hard to close the breach. There are other players equally as crucial in helping close the skills gap; career advisors, vocational training, and apprenticeships. 

Career advisors are essential in helping students plan their career paths and make important decisions about their studies. Whether it’s college, vocational training, or taking time off to decide, getting advice from someone who understands what employers look for will always be beneficial. Especially in a context where industry demands are ever-changing. 

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Benefits of completing vocational training and apprenticeships

Vocational training and apprenticeships provide an alternative to four-year university studies that effectively tackle the skills gap problem. For learners looking to gain specific skills related to a particular job, vocational training can be exactly what they are looking for. Apprenticeships provide further opportunities to develop those skills in real-life work experiences. 

The most significant benefit of vocational training and apprenticeships is that they offer future job seekers the means to acquire knowledge, skills, and experiences that meet industry demands. They also typically cost less than traditional education and can be completed in shorter periods. 

Employers and businesses might look for people with a vocational training background or that have completed apprenticeships. This is because a skilled workforce in their companies ultimately contributes to their productivity and growth. 

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The downside of only completing vocational training and apprenticeships

While some advocate for apprenticeships to close the skills gap, there are some real downsides to pursuing vocational training or apprenticeships alone—mainly the limitation of options down the line. Career advancements might be harder to accomplish since they don’t provide the same level of general education required for management or leadership roles. Similarly, their focused knowledge on a specific trade or industry means a limited scope of study. People considering transitioning roles or industries down the line might struggle since this path doesn’t offer a broad range of knowledge and skills. 

Another thing to consider is the limited offer of vocational training and apprenticeships. There is currently a small demand for programs, especially compared to the high demand for traditional education. This means less availability and options for the specific job-related skills you want to work on. 

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Consulting a career advisor 

Learners who are unsure how to bridge the skills gap currently standing in their way to landing their dream job can also consult a career advisor. This is an excellent option for people who need guidance on what to do next. Career advisors provide guidance on career options and knowledge of specific programs that can help you reach your professional goals. 

Through career explorations, individuals can lean on an advisor’s knowledge about different career paths to understand personal strengths and weaknesses. This is known as skills assessments and they are vital to establishing learning goals and getting on track. The next step after the skills assessments is to work on career planning. Having an advisor helps because by making plans alongside an experienced career planner can provide valuable clarity. 

Lastly, whatever learners choose to do, it is always good to find support and encouragement in others. Support also means leaning on resources that are designed to help you reach your goals.

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