vocational education

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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.


Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the apprenticeshipapprenticeship,
system of learning a craft or trade from one who is engaged in it and of paying for the instruction by a given number of years of work. The practice was known in ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as in modern Europe and to some extent in the
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 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 FroebelFroebel, Friedrich Wilhelm August
, 1782–1852, German educator and founder of the kindergarten system. He had an unhappy childhood and very little formal schooling, learning what he could from wide reading and close observation of nature; he studied for a short time at the
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 and Johann PestalozziPestalozzi, Johann Heinrich
, 1746–1827, Swiss educational reformer, b. Zürich. His theories laid the foundation of modern elementary education. He studied theology at the Univ.
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. 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 guidanceguidance and counseling,
concept that institutions, especially schools, should promote the efficient and happy lives of individuals by helping them adjust to social realities.
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 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 collegescommunity college,
public institution of higher education. Community colleges are characterized by a two-year curriculum that leads to either the associate degree or transfer to a four-year college. The transfer program parallels the first two years of a four-year college.
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 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 educationadult education,
extension of educational opportunities to those adults beyond the age of general public education who feel a need for further training of any sort, also known as continuing education.
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; schoolschool,
term commonly referring to institutions of pre-college formal education. It also properly includes colleges, universities, and many types of special training establishments (see adult education; colleges and universities; community college; vocational education).
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; and programmed instructionprogrammed instruction,
method of presenting new subject matter to students in a graded sequence of controlled steps. Students work through the programmed material by themselves at their own speed and after each step test their comprehension by answering an examination question
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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).

Vocational Education


education received in higher, specialized secondary, and vocational technical educational institutions, as well as in specialized courses.

References in periodicals archive ?
Career and technical education programs provide the foundation of knowledge and skills that prepare students for the vast majority of the fastest growing occupations as identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review in November 2007, including information technology, nursing and allied health, environmental science, and teaching.
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While more details are needed to determine the implications of these proposals, ACTE and NASDCTEc are optimistic about the Administration's renewed focus on career and technical education.
By partnering with local businesses, regional and national organizations and vocational and community colleges, school districts can provide meaningful, high-quality career and technical education programs.
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This is the 16th year for Pennsylvania's observance of Career and Technical Education Week, which is aligned with the national Career and Technical Education Week.
Improving Secondary and Postsecondary Career and Technical Education Transition
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Career and technical education is an important part of the education system in Alabama, where 54 percent of the students participate in CTE coursework.
As I read the reports and the proposed solutions, I am concerned about the absence of career and technical education in the dialogue.
Shining examples of career guidance practices abound, as do leadership and service activities undertaken by our career and technical education student organizations.
On March 19, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Carol D'Amico addressed the issue of the administration's fiscal year 2004 funding request for career and technical education at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations.

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