How to Decide if Vocational Training or Higher Education is best for you

It was once the expectation that once you left school, if you wanted to succeed in life, that you would go on to higher education.  However, it is now accepted that this type of education is not for everybody and there are many more options available to young people.  It can be difficult to decide what type of education is best for you, what will help you get to where you want to be and what you will enjoy.  There are several things to consider when making this decision.  Here is some guidance for people who are deciding whether to choose higher education or vocational training.

Life goals

It is important to consider what you want to have achieved by the end of your education and what career path you think you will follow.  Though many people are not entirely sure of what their career choice is going to be, they usually have some idea.  For example, if you know that you want to be a doctor, then opt for further education.  If you want to become a builder or plumbing then the obvious choice is vocational training.

Personal skills and qualities

Everybody has different skills, abilities and qualities. It is important to be able to recognise these when making a decision about your future.  If you are academically capable, then you may be more suited to higher education.  If your skills lie in creativity and practical tasks then it is likely that you will be best suited to vocational training.  If you are lucky enough to have qualities that suit both types of education then you are in the enviable position of having both options open to you.


It is as important to be able to recognise your limitations and to be brutally honest about what these are as it is to be able to recognise skills.  An example of a limitation is if you have weak literacy skills and find reading and writing for long periods of time difficult.  If this was your limitation then it would be important to consider whether you could cope with the high volume of written work and research that would be an expectation in higher education.

Learning style

People often have a preferred learning style.  This is often either visual, kinaesthetic or auditory.  Knowing your learning style can help in the decision making process as it can help to identify the right type of course for you.  It can also help you to choose the one which you will enjoy the most.