Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Think Globally, Act Locally

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Think Globally, Act Locally

Article excerpt

Not since the decade after World War II has vocational-technical education had the opportunity to be a respected, full participant in the education of America's young people. The school-to-work movement has given us this chance.

As vocational-technical educators we must take advantage of this opportunity by leading all players to the table to design quality programs that will achieve the school-to-work goals. Now is the time to act. We cannot wait to see what others are doing-we must begin work locally to mold programs appropriate for our own communities.

Our society now sees the need for a seamless system that moves students from secondary education to high-quality employment and/or post-secondary education. Lifelong learning also must be a component of this system.

A number of states have passed school-to-work legislation ahead of Congress and the President. Recognizing this, the federal legislation gives states and local partners latitude to design a school-to-work system that meets their specific needs. In fact, some of the state education reform legislation exceeds the federal requirements. This indicates that business and industry have taken an avid interest in education.

Some "experts" say that school-to-work programs must have three basic components: work-based learning, school-based learning and connecting activities. Other elements, too, have been identified as necessary for a fully effective program.

The components of exemplary school-to-work programs focus on these areas:


* Formal agreement stating program goals and objectives.

* Clear administrative functions and staff assigned to the program.

* Regular supervision--scheduled and unscheduled--by the educational partner.

* Technical assistance to small businesses.

* Agreement of postsecondary partners to give priority to school-to-work graduates.


* Training plans followed at the work site.

* Students given opportunity to learn broad, transferable skills as well as general workplace and employment skills.

* Planned program of training that leads to high-wage, high-skill jobs.

* Issuance of portable, industry-accepted skill certificate upon completion.

* Preference given to paid work experience, although non-paid experiences may be a part of the program. …

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