A vocational or trade school is a school that focuses on providing graduates with marketable skills. Common examples include maritime academies, esthetician colleges, culinary schools, automotive repair training programs, and training for medical technicians. After graduating from such a school, an individual will be able to immediately enter the job market with his or her skills and be able to receive a high rate of compensation.
Many programs for disadvantaged youth around the world encourage them to attend trade schools so that they will have a viable escape route from often less than ideal living situations. In some cases, young people are gathered together centrally in a supportive location that helps them pick out schools of interest and pursue an education. Because a trade school is less costly to attend, and provides graduates with immediately useful skills and sometimes job placement services, it is an option that many high school graduates consider in alternative to a college or university.
Many trade school programs are equivalent to college programs, and most of them last for a minimum of two years, but sometimes much longer. In a well run program, students will learn the basics of their trade and be able to practice it. In addition, most schools offer financial planning advice along with courses in business ethics and workshops to acquaint students with the legal issues surrounding their chosen trade. After graduating, a student will be certified, and eligible to take any regional administered tests that may be required for his or her trade.
In some parts of the world, these schools are associated with minimal education, but this is a misconception. While graduates do not have the background that a liberal arts education provides, they are highly trained and skilled individuals who often receive well grounded educations in addition to their technical training. Admission is rigorous, and most schools are accredited, just like colleges are, and subject to review to ensure that their curricula are strong.
For many students, the trade school environment is more supportive of their long-term goals than a traditional college. Many schools receive assistance from the government so that they can offer housing, childcare, nutrition education, and other options to disadvantaged students, usually for free or at a minimal price. Job placement services are often an important part of their offerings, and the staff follow up with their students to see how they are performing in the outside world after graduation.