Vocational Qualifications: What are they? Who are they for?

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Vocational Qualifications What are they Who are they for

What would you expect from a nurse from Greece who works in a hospital in the UK? To be able to talk about the environment in English or to give an English speaking patient clear and detailed instructions on how to take medication? You’d expect from a Greek hairdresser who runs a beauty salon in Nottingham to be able to explain the latest techniques they use for hair dying than talking about how she spent her summer holidays, wouldn’t you?


A Greek secretary who works either abroad or in a multinational company in Greece needs the relevant vocabulary to arrange appointments with clients, to write, send and answer emails, to write meeting minutes, or keep track of what was decided during the meeting, to manage office activity and time etc.

Can a certificate in General English cover the skills and competences these people need in the workplace? The answer is obvious. These people undoubtedly need general English vocabulary but what they need most is the acquisition of awareness, knowledge, skills, and attitudes relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life and which may lead to qualifications.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) qualifications are particularly suitable for:

  • Adults in part-time provision
  • Adults in the workplace
  • Adults in full-time learning
  • Young adults (16-19) who wish to get a vocational qualification for study or work purposes.



Vocational qualifications on offer include:

  • Business and Administration
  • Customer Service
  • Health and Social Care
  • Management
  • Secretarial studies
  • Food hygiene
  • Accounting
  • Sales and marketing...and many more


English for Specific Purposes: What does it mean? Why is it different?


Growth of ESP

From the early 1960’s, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has grown to become one of the most prominent areas of EFL teaching today.

Its development is reflected in the increasing number of universities offering an MA in ESP and in the number of ESP courses offered to overseas students in English speaking countries.



What is ESP?

  • ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines
  • ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of General English
  • ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could, however, be for learners at secondary school level
  • ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students.



Is ESP different to General English?

Hutchinson et al. (1987:53) answer this quite simply, “in theory nothing, in practice a great deal”.


The Future of ESP

The ESP community is growing and flourishing. New members join with confidence and existing members carry on the practices which have brought ESP to the position it has in EFL teaching today. In Greece, in particular, ESP is still in its infancy so now it’s the ideal time to form such a consensus.


Qualifications available in the Greek market

Some years ago, Express Publishing and the University of Greenwich launched a partnership to develop and establish the Vocational English Certification (VEC). INTERVENG is a division of Express Publishing, set up with the sole purpose of administering the VEC assessment and examination model.

The structure of the examination is designed to meet the requirements of various fields taught in vocational schools, technical colleges, institutes and universities.
The 60-minute examination is administered online at UNICERT/ Express Publishing authorized examination centers.

OET is a well-respected international English language test for the healthcare sector. Established in the late 1980s under contract to the Australian Federal Government, OET continues to remain relevant through continuous research and validation.

Since 2013 OET has been owned by Cambridge BoxHill Language Assessment, a venture between Cambridge Assessment English and Box Hill Institute. Box Hill Institute is a leading Australian vocational and higher education provider, active both in Australia and overseas.

The test is administered in Greece by HEC (Hellenic English Council)



The Test of Legal English Skills (TOLES) assesses the English language skills required by the legal profession and sectors related to law.

TOLES tests the following skills:

  • knowledge and use of vocabulary relevant in the global commercial market
  • writing formal letters and communicating by email
  • the ability to follow a course of legal study where the instruction is in English
  • reading and writing complex law documentation
  • the language of negotiating
  • grammatical accuracy.

TOLES is administered by

  • British Council – Athens and Thessaloniki
  • Nomiki Bibliothiki Group
  • Peloponnese Examination Network (PEN)
  • Hellenic American Union
  • The Pyramid Group Greece
  • Globalcitizen Educational Organization
  • E.D.U. Standards
  • Greek Law in English
  • Lord Byron School (Thessaloniki)

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