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“It's a good idea to understand what a vocational course is...”

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Financing a vocational training course

If you’re planning on taking a vocational training course and are thinking about how you’re going to pay for it, we’ll take you through your options.

To begin with, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what a vocational course is. 

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What is a vocational course?

Vocational courses are designed to help you learn in a practical way. They’re not so focused on academic subjects but provide you with the skills you need to master a particular trade instead. After completing a vocational training course you should have the tools you need to start a job or go on to a higher level course at college or university.

Some examples of vocational courses include:

- Beauty therapy, hairdressing or salon management

- Plumbing, carpentry or electrical installation

- Environmental services or animal management

- Business administration

- Early years education

- Fashion design

- Rail services or travel and tourism. 

“You may wish to speak to your manager and see if your company will fund your studies...”

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Can I do a vocational course for free?

In some cases an employer will pay for you to take a vocational course as they recognise the value of the skills it will give you in terms of carrying out your job role. In these instances, colleges usually require students to bring a letter of authorisation from their boss to enrolment so that they can issue an invoice directly to the employer.

If you feel that the course would help you perform your current role better, you may wish to speak to your manager and see if your company will fund your studies. Even if they say no, they might be willing to let you have study leave or support you in other ways.

You may also be able to study for free or at a reduced rate if you meet certain criteria. Examples being:

- You're 24+ at the start date of your course and are studying a level 3 or 4 course (regardless of your financial circumstances).

- You are unemployed and claiming Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). 

If you’re unsure about what level the course you are interested in is, you’ll need to head to the website of your local college to find out. You’ll also find details about when the courses are being run and any further requirements here.  

Want to know more? Read part 2 of our guide

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