Vocational Education

vocational education, training designed to advance individuals' general proficiency, especially in relation to their present or future occupations. The term does not normally include training for the professions.

Development

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the apprenticeship system and the home were the principal sources of vocational education. Since then society has been forced by the decline of handwork and the specialization of occupational functions to develop institutions of vocational education. Manual training, involving general instruction in the use of hand tools, developed initially in Scandinavia (c.1866) in response to the doctrines of Friedrich Froebel and Johann Pestalozzi. It became popular in the elementary schools of the United States after 1880. While the immediate object of this training was not vocational, it developed gradually into extended courses in industrial training. Courses in bookkeeping, stenography, and allied commercial work in both public and private institutions were other early forms of vocational education.

Among the early private trade schools were Cooper Union (1859) and Pratt Institute (1887). Hampton Institute (1868) and Tuskegee Institute (1881) were pioneers in industrial, agricultural, and home economics training for African Americans. The agricultural high school (1888) of the Univ. of Minnesota was the first regularly established public vocational secondary school and introduced extensive public instruction in agriculture. Since 1900 the number of public and private vocational schools has greatly increased.

Although the 1862 Morrill Act, which established land-grant colleges, represented the first effort by the federal government to ensure vocational education, nothing further was done until the Smith-Hughes Act (1917), which provided federal financing for industrial, home economics, and agricultural courses. This aid was extended in the George-Deen Act (1936) to include teacher education and training for certain other occupations. Vocational correspondence courses, which were formed in great numbers to meet the growing demand for training, often were poorly designed and without value. These were improved under the informal supervision of the National Home Study Council (1926) working with the Federal Trade Commission.

Advances in the techniques of vocational education were made by the armed services during World War II. The need for technicians was so great that civilian life could not supply them, and special training methods stressing graphic presentation and practical work were used to meet the demand. Further impetus to vocational training resulted from the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (popularly, the G. I. Bill of Rights), which allowed World War II veterans to receive tuition and subsistence during extended vocational training. Subsequent bills provided funds for the vocational education of veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Manpower Development Training Act (1962), the Vocational Education Act (1963), the Vocational Education Amendments (1968), and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act (1984) have helped to upgrade the nation's workforce and ensure that vocational training is available for economically or physically challenged young people.

In recent years, corporations and labor organizations have established the majority of new vocational and cultural centers. In addition, many of the public high schools offering vocational training have undergone a variety of changes. Almost all have placed renewed emphasis on a student's meeting general academic standards as well as learning a trade. Many schools have shifted the emphasis of their programs from the traditional construction trades to computers and related technologies, and some schools have moved away from vocational training entirely.

Modern Vocational Education

Large communities frequently have separate public schools devoted to specific occupational fields, and some counties and states sponsor regional vocational training establishments. These public schools work closely with interested industries and trades in establishing curricula and in guidance programs. The cooperative training technique, in which students work part-time in the job for which they are preparing, is a common feature of these schools. Community colleges often provide vocational training courses. Many industries have instituted extensive vocational education programs for their employees, and virtually all trades require apprenticeship and/or on-the-job training.

Theorists in vocational training have emphasized that its aim is to improve the worker's general culture as well as to further his or her technical training. That policy is evident in the academic requirements of public vocational schools and in the work of public continuation and evening schools. Various academic courses are provided so that workers who have not completed the public school requirements may do so while engaged in regular jobs. In some localities attendance at continuation schools is compulsory for those who are of school age. While continuation and evening schools are often primarily vocational, they frequently include general courses that attract older workers.

See also adult education; school; and programmed instruction.

Bibliography

See the publications of the National Center for Research in Vocational Education; also F. J. Keller, The Double-Purpose High School (1953, repr. 1970); R. N. Evans, Foundations of Vocational Education (1971); N. P. Eurich, Corporate Classrooms (1985); A. J. Pautler, ed., Vocational Education in the 1990s (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Developing Vocational Expertise: Principles and Issues in Vocational Education
John Stevenson.
Allen & Unwin, 2003
How Do We Tell the Workers? The Socioeconomic Foundations of Work and Vocational Education
Joe L. Kincheloe.
Westview Press, 1999
Work, Youth, and Schooling: Historical Perspectives on Vocationalism in American Education
Harvey Kantor; David B. Tyack.
Stanford University Press, 1982
Voices from the Margins: The Stories of Vocational High School Students
Jane P. Nagle.
Peter Lang, 2001
Are Skills the Answer? The Political Economy of Skill Creation in Advanced Industrial Countries
Colin Crouch; David Finegold; Mari Sako.
Oxford University Press, 1999
The New Vocationalism: What It Is, What It Could Be
Grubb, W. Norton.
Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 77, No. 8, April 1996
The UPS School-to-Career Curriculum: Innovations in Career and Technical Education. (Teachers, Technology and Training)
Donlevy, Jim.
International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Schooling and Vocational Preparation: Is a Revolution Really Taking Place?
Cornford, Ian R.
Australian Journal of Education, Vol. 42, No. 2, August 1998
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Youthjobs: Toward a Private/Public Partnership
David Bresnick; Frank Macchiarola.
Quorum Books, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Vocational Education American Style"
Institutional Arrangements of Germany's Vocational Education System; What Are the Policy Implications for the U.S.?
Rieble-Aubourg, Sabine.
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 37, No. 1-2, June 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Vocational Education and Productivity in the Netherlands and Britain
Mason, Geoff; Prais, S. J.; van Ark, Bart.
National Institute Economic Review, No. 140, May 1992
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Vocational Qualifications in Britain and Europe: Theory and Practice
Prais, S. J.
National Institute Economic Review, No. 136, May 1991
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Schooling for All: Class, Race, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal
Ira Katznelson; Margaret Weir.
Basic Books, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Training for the Workplace"
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