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Self Development

Vocational Training & Skills

How do you learn best? Answer the following questions to find out a little about yourself.

You find yourself on the wrong side of a river – how do you get across?

  • A. You fashion a makeshift bridge out of woven reeds, tree bark and mud.
  • B. You turn around and head back into town, go to the library and study a book on Engineering, shortly after you establish a team of bridge builders to construct a new footbridge over the river.
  • C. You intend to go for the makeshift bridge, but decide to take a little time out for instruction first.
  • D. You decide to stay at the riverside for the rest of your life eating only shoots and berries.

Your washing machine breaks after a pair of jeans gets tangled in the drum. What do you do?

  • A. Instantly grab your spanner from the shed and start on the road to recovery.
  • B. Vow to take get clued up on washing machine construction so you can fix it next time.
  • C. You study the washing machine manual for a couple of hours and then attack it with your spanner.
  • D. Wander out into the garden to eat the hedge.

You receive a fantastic new CD Player from your Aunt for your Birthday, but all the buttons make it look like a Rubik’s puzzle. How do you get it to work?

  • A. Start working out the controls by experimenting with each of the buttons to see what happens.
  • B. Read the manual for a few hours until you have a theoretical idea of the machine, before attempting to play your new album.
  • C. Take a look at the trouble shooting guide in the manual and then dive in.
  • D. Leave the CD Player well alone, eat some sugar cubes and go out into the country for a run

So what sort of person are you?

Mostly A’s:

You’re a hands-on person, with practical skills and a sixth sense for getting the job done. Your innate theory of how things work allows you to adapt to new tasks quickly.

Mostly B’s:

You’re more theory-orientated and like to take time out to study before tackling the problem for real. Books and tutorial are essential tools of your trade.

Mostly C’s:

You’re a manual person at heart, but need some reassurance before taking the plunge. After a little guidance you’re ready to go.

Mostly D’s:

You sound a bit like an animal, possibly a horse.

OK it was a rubbish quiz, but it does bring up an important point. You really have to know how you study best before planning where to go. It’s a fairly good bet that Michael Schumacher didn’t just land in his Ferrari Formula One car at the age of 25; he planned his route through the racing classes. There’s a lot to be said for planning, because the options available after school today are varied and reflect different learning styles. Choosing the right route is so important as you are far more likely to remain motivated and go on to succeed.

If after the quiz you see yourself as an “A” sort of person, then you may wish to consider taking an Apprenticeship. The beauty of an Apprenticeship is that it allows you to enter the workplace straight after school but still recognises that you need qualifications as a ticket to the career that you really want. Here’s a taste of some of the benefits that you can expect on the scheme:

  • You will have a job and a wage from day one, or…
  • You’ll be on a work placement with a weekly training allowance
  • Modern Apprenticeships are available at two levels. The Foundation Apprenticeship leads to an NVQ level 2 (the equivalent of five GCSEs). The Advanced Apprenticeship leads to NVQ level 3 (equivalent to two A levels)
  • Normally training takes place on day-release from work

The bonus of Apprenticeships is the sheer variety on offer. In London, the Learning and Skills Council has providers who specialise in a range of industries including accounting, agriculture, animal care, catering, carpentry, engineering, customer services, business administration, hairdressing and health care amongst many others. Apprenticeships also offer plenty of scope for taking your training into Higher Education with a University Degree. If you want to gain valuable work experience, skills, qualifications at the same time as earning, then this could be for you.

Alternatively, and for all the “B” and “C” people out there, there’s the college or school sixth form who provide courses as a means to help get the skills you need on board for your career or for University. But there are a variety of ways to go about learning at school sixth form or at college now, with both academic and vocational qualifications available to all. Both of these routes are designed to give you the skills that you need to go further.

The options available are too much to list here, but to get an idea of what’s on offer in your part of the world, then the following websites can help:

Don’t forget your careers adviser at school who is there to make sure that you know what’s on offer and to help you make the right decision as to your next steps. They have even more advanced methods on offer than our quiz here! You can also see your local Connexions Adviser. Connexions is a new service for young people age 13-19 that offers quick access to information and advice on a wide range of topics. Log on to their attractive new website at:

Connexions or your Careers Adviser can offer advice when you are writing your applications for courses, be they for a college course or for an Apprenticeship.

What some people lose sight of when thinking about continuing their training after school is how it will contribute to their careers for the rest of their life. The techniques we pick up at school and college broaden the mind, improve our knowledge and add to our skills in a way that will never leave us. Even if you have specialised in your study, the general skills you acquire can be taken from job-to-job and help to broaden your horizons and keep your prospects open.

If you plan for the future, it can be bright – and not in the same way as a certain mobile phone manufacturer. You could leave it all to chance, but bear in mind that the chances of winning the lottery currently stand at around 1 in 13,983,816 which is not all that great.

The chances of going on to a winning career, however, are much higher. In fact they are almost certain, if you look at where you want to go and then look at how you are going to get there.





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