When looking at doing a vocational training program such as light warehouse or special education teacher’s assistant, many people focus their attention on the education aspect: the certification or diploma, the amount of homework, the quality of the instruction, practicums, and so on. These things are undoubtedly quite important – after all, if the quality of the education is poor, you cannot expect to do as well in a professional setting or you may simply find yourself not doing very well in the class because the instruction wasn’t up to the task of the exams or what an employer is looking for. We have touched on this as well of course, so for this blog, I’m going to look at some of the social benefits of vocational training which can be translated to your resume or at least make your time in the classroom more enjoyable!
Building Up Your Network
I have written about this before because building up a professional network is critical to a successful job search. When we think about our network though, we often think of things like past employers, instructors, and people who ‘have authority’ in one way or another.
But our fellow peers have their own history and networks too that you can tap into via the classroom. Perhaps the student you have been working with on a project has connections in an industry you want to get into that they left behind? Maybe there’s a family connection you can get pointed to in order to get a job? Or maybe you just get a connection to something that you would have had a hard time accessing. Whatever the case may be, your fellow students offer an opportunity to broaden your network, so at the very least, try not to alienate anyone.
Support in Your Goals
Assignment deadlines are all well and good, but motivation often comes best with its from within and when it comes from fellow peers rather than from someone in authority. Your fellow students can be instrumental in helping you achieve your training goals, from study groups to fun competitions for marks on assignments and exams to team projects. The incentive to do the work is hard to maintain by oneself – it often takes an external push and other students can provide that.
Aside from motivation, the social side of the classroom can also help with things like tutoring, assistance with the work and understanding it, or simply to brainstorm ideas and solutions. We are all guilty of getting stuck in mental ruts and those ruts can make it harder to finish work or to get higher grades or ‘break through’ creative blocks. By bouncing ideas off others and getting help in polishing work, you may find that you can get work done better and smoother and be able to access ideas that otherwise may never have occurred to you. This not only may translate to higher grades, but also to a more interesting and fulfilling class overall. Even people you don’t agree with or would work with can help with this because you may want to come up with ways to counter what they are saying!
A final example of this (and we are sure you could come up with far more) is general motivation to get to class on time and every day. At Canadian Vocational Training Centre, we often ‘buddy up’ students in their first week with the idea that they will be able to contact each other for help with work, if they are going to be late or not get to class and need help catching up, or to simply drag each other to class every day whether they like it or not! Many graduates have expressed gratitude to their buddy for simply hauling them out of bed and making them go to class when they otherwise would not do it because they didn’t feel like it. We also of course encourage study groups and some projects and exercises are meant to be done as a team rather than alone.
Working to a Schedule
Although perhaps not as well known as the social aspect, the fact that going to vocational training means being kicked into a schedule has some benefits, particularly for those who have not been in the job force for a long time (or ever) or who have been following a schedule that won’t work for their next employment. Having to attend classes on a daily rotation, make it to class on time, and create a schedule to do homework and make deadlines, gives many people a sense of stability and purpose and prepares them for re-entry into the workforce where they will have to follow someone else’s lead on time.
Creating and sticking to a schedule (or being kicked into one) is particularly useful for those with anxiety, depression, autism, etc., as a schedule can really help people stay motivated and get into a routine that is stabilizing. It won’t work for everyone of course, but it can be really useful for many. It also helps many people carve out time that is ‘their own’ without feeling guilty about it (looking at you moms!) since they are doing something that will ultimately help them benefit their family and the greater society.
Preparation for a Multicultural Workplace
Love it or hate it, the workforce of today is incredibly multicultural. The fields of hospitality in particular pull workers from all over the planet, but you will certainly find that any workplace has people from all walks of life, all bringing their own spin on things. This is very beneficial to businesses as it allows for more diversity in ideas, the ability to reach more customers, and be culturally relevant in the age of BLM and the fight for BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) rights.
The classroom offers a great way to get used to the fact that you will not be working in a racial vacuum. (ie, everyone you meet will be of one race). In vocational training classrooms, you will likely meet people from all over the province, country, and even the world, depending on your program. Immigrants are very likely to take vocational training for example, as it’s quick, targeted, and funded, so they can get into the workplace more smoothly. This is a wonderful chance for everyone to learn more about the world they live in, learn how to work with people who aren’t from the same town as you, and who may have a very different outlook. All of these things make you more employable, a better leader, and a better team player. In a world that is tied more closely together than ever, these things are only good for you and your employment goals.
The educational and job seeking benefits of vocational training are quite clear and that is where much of the focus is found. But it is important to consider the social benefits as well. While in the classroom, you should feel supported, have people who can help you, be able to see the usefulness of a schedule and take advantage of the chance to meet people from outside of your usual orbit. These things are not only beneficial when it comes to looking for work, but it also makes it easier to get to class every day, more fun to attend classes, and lets you make some great memories. And since everyone is working towards the same training goals together, you really can end up feeling tight knit, especially in smaller classes!
What are some of the social and personal benefits that you have enjoyed through vocational training?