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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay related to the topic of skills and vocational training or university education from the real IELTS exam.

It is a very common kind of question and these topics also come up a lot.

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Dave

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer Essay: Skills and Vocational Training

Nations should spend more money on skills and vocational training for practical work, rather than on university education.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Real Past IELTS Exam

Many today feel that countries should prioritise vocational training over higher education due to changes in the labour market. In my opinion, though there are strong economic reasons to support this idea, university education holds greater value.

Those in favour of more practical skills training point out the financial benefits. Most university graduates are burdened with student debt and face uncertain job prospects. In contrast, training schools are cheap, fast, and ease students into steady employment immediately. The jobs they train for are also most likely recession-proof and durable, including positions as cooks, hotel managers, and skilled technicians. Someone who is firmly established in such a job in their early 20s does not have to deal with the pressures associated with university life and its incumbent debts. Instead, they can begin to set aside money for a house or start a family.

Nonetheless, lacking a university degree limits one’s options. The jobs available will pay well initially and be secure but offer narrow scope for advancement and virtually no opportunity to switch career paths. An individual with a university degree, on the other hand, might begin from a lower position but has a higher ceiling on future earnings. It is also possible for them to explore a variety of fields. Most good jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree even for simple internship vacancies. Lacking such a degree, means restricting oneself to manual labour or service industry jobs. The actual learning that takes place at university, particularly for those with multi-disciplinary majors or studying at liberal arts schools, also encourages students to consider a wide range of possible career options.

In conclusion, increasing funding for vocational training is an attractive yet short-sighted approach that curbs possibilities. Governments ought to continue to support higher education even in dark economic times in order to reap future rewards.

Analysis

1. Many today feel that countries should prioritise vocational training over higher education due to changes in the labour market. 2. In my opinion, though there are strong economic reasons to support this idea, university education holds greater value.

  1. Paraphrase the overall topic for the essay.
  2. Give a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. Those in favour of more practical skills training point out the financial benefits. 2. Most university graduates are burdened with student debt and face uncertain job prospects. 3. In contrast, training schools are cheap, fast, and ease students into steady employment immediately. 4. The jobs they train for are also most likely recession-proof and durable, including positions as cooks, hotel managers, and skilled technicians. 5. Someone who is firmly established in such a job in their early 20s does not have to deal with the pressures associated with university life and its incumbent debts. 6. Instead, they can begin to set aside money for a house or start a family.

  1. Write a clear topic sentence with a main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Use specific details to develop your main idea.
  4. Include specific examples.
  5. State the full results.
  6. Continue detailing the results.

1. Nonetheless, lacking a university degree limits one’s options. 2. The jobs available will pay well initially and be secure but offer narrow scope for advancement and virtually no opportunity to switch career paths. 3. An individual with a university degree, on the other hand, might begin from a lower position but has a higher ceiling on future earnings. 4. It is also possible for them to explore a variety of fields. 5. Most good jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree even for simple internship vacancies. 6. Lacking such a degree, means restricting oneself to manual labour or service industry jobs. 7. The actual learning that takes place at university, particularly for those with multi-disciplinary majors or studying at liberal arts schools, also encourages students to consider a wide range of possible career options.

  1. Write another topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea again.
  3. Use a hypothetical example if you don’t know a real one.
  4. Vary your long and short sentences.
  5. Keep developing the same main idea.
  6. Using counter-points to make your argument stronger.
  7. State the full results and add in any more development for the same main idea.

1. In conclusion, increasing funding for vocational training is an attractive yet short-sighted approach that curbs possibilities. 2. Governments ought to continue to support higher education even in dark economic times in order to reap future rewards.

  1. Summarise your main ideas and repeat your opinion.
  2. Add a final thought/detail. Learn more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

Many today feel that countries should prioritise vocational training over higher education due to changes in the labour market. In my opinion, though there are strong economic reasons to support this idea, university education holds greater value.

Those in favour of more practical skills training point out the financial benefits. Most university graduates are burdened with student debt and face uncertain job prospects. In contrast, training schools are cheap, fast, and ease students into steady employment immediately. The jobs they train for are also most likely recession-proof and durable, including positions as cooks, hotel managers, and skilled technicians. Someone who is firmly established in such a job in their early 20s does not have to deal with the pressures associated with university life and its incumbent debts. Instead, they can begin to set aside money for a house or start a family.

Nonetheless, lacking a university degree limits one’s options. The jobs available will pay well initially and be secure but offer narrow scope for advancement and virtually no opportunity to switch career paths. An individual with a university degree, on the other hand, might begin from a lower position but has a higher ceiling on future earnings. It is also possible for them to explore a variety of fields. Most good jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree even for simple internship vacancies. Lacking such a degree, means restricting oneself to manual labour or service industry jobs. The actual learning that takes place at university, particularly for those with multi-disciplinary majors or studying at liberal arts schools, also encourages students to consider a wide range of possible career options.

In conclusion, increasing funding for vocational training is an attractive yet short-sighted approach that curbs possibilities. Governments ought to continue to support higher education even in dark economic times in order to reap future rewards.

Answers

prioritise vocational training focus more on skilled training

higher education university

labour market jobs and employment

strong economic reasons good financial justifications

holds greater value has more importance

practical skills training vocational training for jobs such as cook, electrician, etc.

financial benefits monetary advantages

burdened with student debt have lots of money to pay back

face uncertain job prospects may struggle to get work

in contrast however

ease without effort

steady employment good job

recession-proof can survive difficult economic times

durable secure

skilled technicians electricians, plumbers, IT people

firmly established secure

deal with handle

pressures associated with stress related to

incumbent debts money owed that comes along with uni

set aside money save money

lacking not having

limits one’s options not as many choices

pay well initially make good salary at the beginning

secure safe

narrow scope not diverse, limited

virtually essentially

switch career paths find a new kind of job

university degree bachelor’s degree, masters, etc.

on the other hand however

lower position not as high up

higher ceiling on future earnings cap on what you can make in the future

explore look through

variety of fields lots of different jobs, areas

require at least must have at minimum

internship vacancies open unpaid jobs

restricting limiting

manual labour jobs that require hard work

service industry jobs hotels, restaurants, etc.

multi-disciplinary majors studying more than one subject

liberal arts schools schools where you focus on many subjects

encourages inspires

consider think about

wide range of possible career options many choices for a job

attractive appealing

short-sighted approach not a good long-term strategy

curbs possibilities limits choices

dark economic times when the economy is poor

reap future rewards get a lot out of it later

Pronunciation

praɪˈɒrɪˌtaɪz vəʊˈkeɪʃənl ˈtreɪnɪŋ 
ˈhaɪər ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən 
ˈleɪbə ˈmɑːkɪt
strɒŋ ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪk ˈriːznz 
həʊldz ˈgreɪtə ˈvæljuː
ˈpræktɪkəl skɪlz ˈtreɪnɪŋ 
faɪˈnænʃəl ˈbɛnɪfɪts
ˈbɜːdnd wɪð ˈstjuːdənt dɛt 
feɪs ʌnˈsɜːtn ʤɒb ˈprɒspɛkts
ɪn ˈkɒntrɑːst
iːz 
ˈstɛdi ɪmˈplɔɪmənt 
rɪˈsɛʃən-pruːf 
ˈdjʊərəbl
skɪld tɛkˈnɪʃənz
ˈfɜːmli ɪsˈtæblɪʃt 
diːl wɪð 
ˈprɛʃəz əˈsəʊʃɪeɪtɪd wɪð 
ɪnˈkʌmbənt dɛts
sɛt əˈsaɪd ˈmʌni 
ˈlækɪŋ 
ˈlɪmɪts wʌnz ˈɒpʃənz
peɪ wɛl ɪˈnɪʃəli 
sɪˈkjʊə 
ˈnærəʊ skəʊp 
ˈvɜːtjʊəli 
swɪʧ kəˈrɪə pɑːðz
ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsɪti dɪˈgriː
ɒn ði ˈʌðə hænd
ˈləʊə pəˈzɪʃən 
ˈhaɪə ˈsiːlɪŋ ɒn ˈfjuːʧər ˈɜːnɪŋz
ɪksˈplɔː 
vəˈraɪəti ɒv fiːldz
rɪˈkwaɪər æt liːst 
ˈɪntɜːnʃɪp ˈveɪkənsiz
rɪsˈtrɪktɪŋ 
ˈmænjʊəl ˈleɪbə 
ˈsɜːvɪs ˈɪndəstri ʤɒbz
ˈmʌltɪ-ˈdɪsɪplɪnəri ˈmeɪʤəz 
ˈlɪbərəl ɑːts skuːlz
ɪnˈkʌrɪʤɪz 
kənˈsɪdə 
waɪd reɪnʤ ɒv ˈpɒsəbl kəˈrɪər ˈɒpʃənz
əˈtræktɪv 
ʃɔːt-ˈsaɪtɪd əˈprəʊʧ 
kɜːbz ˌpɒsəˈbɪlɪtiz
dɑːk ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪk taɪmz 
riːp ˈfjuːʧə rɪˈwɔːdz

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

Many today feel that countries should p__________________________g over h______________________n due to changes in the l__________________t. In my opinion, though there are s_________________________s to support this idea, university education h____________________e.

Those in favour of more p________________________g point out the f_________________________s. Most university graduates are b__________________________t and f__________________________s. I_______________t, training schools are cheap, fast, and e_____e students into s________________________t immediately. The jobs they train for are also most likely r__________________f and d____________e, including positions as cooks, hotel managers, and s____________________s. Someone who is f_______________________d in such a job in their early 20s does not have to d______________h the p______________________h university life and its i_______________________s. Instead, they can begin to s__________________y for a house or start a family.

Nonetheless, l___________g a university degree l______________________s. The jobs available will p____________________y and be s__________e but offer n__________________e for advancement and v____________y no opportunity to s_____________________s. An individual with a u___________________e, o_______________________d, might begin from a l_______________n but has a h_____________________________s. It is also possible for them to e___________e a v____________________s. Most good jobs r_________________t a bachelor’s degree even for simple i_____________________s. Lacking such a degree, means r______________g oneself to m______________r or s_________________________s. The actual learning that takes place at university, particularly for those with m_________________________s or studying at l______________________s, also e______________s students to c____________r a w_____________________________________s.

In conclusion, increasing funding for vocational training is an a______________e yet s_________________________h that c________________________s. Governments ought to continue to support higher education even in d______________________s in order to r_______________________s.

Listening Practice

Listen about training in the United States and Germany below from The New York Times YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sun5FS6VKw

and here about this exact topic:

Reading Practice

Read more about this same topic from The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2009/06/skip-college-and-get-a-job/20009/

Speaking Practice

Practice speaking with the following topics from the IELTS speaking test:

Work

  1. Do you work or are you a student?
  2. What do you like about your work?
  3. What has changed at your work since you started?
  4. Do you like to work in the morning or afternoon?

Writing Practice

Write about the following related topic and check with my sample answer:

Full-time university students spend a lot of time studying. Some say they should do other activities too.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

IELTS Writing Exam

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