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Vocational Training

Vocational training focuses on the practical skills and knowledge required for particular jobs, trades and occupations. It is important in supporting workplace progression, improving the productivity of businesses and fulfilling individuals' aspirations.

Vocational training is delivered by a wide range of organisations, which include:

  • Colleges and schools.
  • Training providers in the public, private and third sectors.
  • Local authorities.
  • Employers and employers' organisations.
  • Voluntary organisations and social enterprises.
  • Trade unions.
  • Government agencies.

To be effective, vocational training ought to respond to the needs of employers, therefore providers should work in partnership with employers in the design and delivery of courses. This is one of the recommendations from Review of Post-16 Education and Vocational Training in Scotland, the others being to develop a learner-centred system that is founded on the following 12 principles:

  • Is easy to understand and navigate.
  • Offers excellent insights on, and access to the world of work.
  • Operates coherently and collaboratively at local / regional level with appropriate governance arrangements.
  • Operates in a transparent and accountable environment so that learners, employers and communities can drive provider responsiveness and continuous improvement.
  • Is market-led with strong employer engagement throughout.
  • Is performance driven with a clear focus on outcomes and impacts.
  • Retains and attracts an increasingly ambitious and adaptive workforce.
  • Embraces innovation and creativity.
  • Gains more from current and future technologies.
  • Is responsive to the diversity of opportunities and needs across all parts of Scotland.
  • Offers the country exceptional public value.
  • Has strong international connections and impacts.

In Scotland:

  • Vocational training typically takes the form of courses provided by further education colleges and private training providers, incorporating classroom and work-based elements.
  • The Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme provides individuals with the opportunity to gain vocational qualifications while earning a wage. It also offers businesses the opportunity to train employees to industry-recognised standards.

Most vocational qualifications are developed, accredited and awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The two main types of vocational qualification in Scotland are Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas
(HNCs and HNDs). The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) brings together all mainstream qualifications in Scotland into a single framework, allowing for comparisons to be made.

Under the newly introduced Employability Fund, Skills Development Scotland funds skills training to individuals that is delivered in partnership with training providers and colleges. The Fund brought together earlier National Training Programmes, including Get Ready for Work, Lifeskills, Training for Work, Targeted Pathways to Apprenticeships and the New College Learning Programme, with the aim of providing a more flexible, outcome-focused provision for individuals which is responsive to the needs of employers and local labour markets.