Your choices at 16

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications at 16

Many school sixth forms offer a range of vocational courses like Applied General Qualifications, and Cambridge Technical qualifications. By applying learning to real-life situations, these qualifications offer a more practical approach than traditional A-Level academic courses.

Further Education Colleges offer a large range of vocational courses at all levels. Read more about these vocational courses here. Find out more about what its like at college here.

Different types of vocational qualifications

  • Vocational subjects - related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care. Previously called BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals, if they are at Level 3 these are now called Applied Vocational Qualifications. These courses are offered in schools and colleges.
  • Vocational courses - that lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery or plumbing. These courses are called Technical Level Qualifications [T Levels] and are offered mostly at colleges.
  • Apprenticeships - apprenticeships offer training for a job while working for an employer, alongside study for an associated qualification. You 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 like a Level 3 Applied General Qualification alongside 1 or 2 A-Level subjects.

Two years is a long time to do a subject, so it’s important that you have the drive and passion to succeed.

What to expect

Applied General Qualifications such as BTECs and some OCR Cambridge courses are vocational qualifications that are designed to give students the skills they need either to 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.

For lots more information look at the vocational qualification section.

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