Vocational-Technical Educational Institutions

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vocational-Technical Educational Institutions


schools of various types and specializations for training skilled workers; they form a basic part of the system of vocational-technical education in the USSR.

Before the emergence of the large-scale machine industry, the vocational training of workers usually took place during an apprenticeship at a factory, although vocational educational institutions have existed since ancient times. The first vocational-technical schools were founded in Germany in the early 18th century, in France in the early 19th century, and in the United States in the 1870’s.

In Russia the first vocational-technical educational institutions, which included metallurgical schools, were founded in the early 18th century. They became more widespread after the mid-19th century owing to the demand for skilled workers in capitalist industries. In accordance with the Basic Statutes on Industrial Schools (1888), which had the force of law, two types of vocational-technical educational institutions were established: elementary technical schools and trade schools. These schools trained junior technical personnel, foremen, and plant and factory workers.

The trade schools founded in 1893 provided adolescents with the vocational knowledge and skills necessary for mastering a trade upon graduation. In the late 19th and the early 20th century, elementary trade schools and rural trade workshops were established to train agricultural workers. The schools generally accepted adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 who had graduated from municipal, district, or rural two-year primary schools. The training period at the trade schools lasted from three to five years. By 1913 there were approximately 100 vocational-technical schools, with 106,000 students.

The following institutions functioned during the first years of Soviet power (1917–20): (1) vocational-technical schools with a three- to four-year program; (2) school clubs in enterprises, which provided a two-year program of general, vocational, and political training for working youth; (3) model workshops, offering a three-year program that trained workers to repair farm machinery and to work in minor and cottage industries; and (4) apprentice schools, providing training for beginning workers for a period of five or six months. In the 1920’s, the Komsomol initiated the establishment of schools for apprenticeship in industry, which served as models for a new, socialist type of vocational-technical educational institution. These schools specialized in industry, railroad transport, river and marine transport, agriculture, commerce and clerical work, and construction. The training period, originally three to four years, was reduced to one to two years in the 1930’s.

Three types of vocational-technical educational institutions were adopted by the system of State Labor Reserves of the USSR established in 1940: trade schools, railroad schools, and industrial training schools. Trade and railroad schools had a two-year program and trained skilled workers for industry, transport, and communications. The industrial training schools, with a six-month program, trained workers of major occupations to be employed in the coal, mining, metallurgical, petroleum, and construction industries. Admission to these schools was selective, but it was also open for young people who had graduated from seven-year general-education schools. The factory training schools admitted those who had graduated from primary schools. The students were supported by the state.

In 1943 specialized four-year trade schools were established for the children of Soviet Army soldiers and partisans, as well as for children whose parents had been killed in the war. These schools accepted children aged 12 and 13 who had completed primary school. The specialized trade schools provided general education similar to that of the seven-year school, as well as vocational training. In 1947 three-year trade schools and four-year agricultural schools were established for orphaned adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 who had completed three years of elementary schooling. These students learned a worker’s occupation and acquired a general education equal to the fourth or fifth year of study. A number of agricultural schools accepted adolescents who had completed the fifth grade; these students received vocational training simultaneously completing a seven-year school program.

In 1948 seven-year mining-engineering schools were founded for the children of mine workers. These schools provided a general secondary education and vocational-technical training for children between the ages of 12 and 14 who had completed the fourth or fifth grades. In 1949 these schools were converted into two-year mining schools. Two-year agricultural mechanization schools were founded in 1953 to train combine operators and mechanics, tractor operators, and foremen of tractor teams. These schools accepted young people who had completed a seven-year school. One- and two-year technical schools were established for secondary-school graduates in 1954.

In 1958 and 1959, all vocational-technical educational institutions were reorganized into one- and two-year urban and rural vocational-technical schools and came under the control of the committees for vocational-technical education in the Union republics. The schools accepted young people who had completed eight-year schools, and the state provided the students with food and clothing or with scholarships. Technical schools were reestablished in 1966 and had a training period of one or one and a half years.

In accordance with the resolutions of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Measures for the Further Improvement of Skilled-worker Training in Vocational-technical Educational Institutions (1969) and On Improving the Vocational-technical Educational System (1972), a new type of vocational-technical school was established, the three- or four-year secondary vocational-technical educational institution, which gives students a general secondary education in addition to training them in specialized skills. Students who have completed eight grades qualify for admission.

Ministries and departments in the USSR also have their own schools, including commercial, cooking, and nautical schools and schools for apprenticeship in industry. The Union republics have vocational-technical schools under the ministries of light industry and of the food-processing and meat and dairy industries. These schools accept students who have completed the eighth grade; the school program covers a period of one to three years.

In 1974 the USSR had more than 6,000 vocational-technical educational institutions, including 2,200 secondary ones, with a total enrollment of 3 million. Between 1920 and 1974 these institutions trained 36 million skilled workers for jobs in the national economy. Some 31.5 million workers were trained between 1941 and 1973. Of these, 10 million were trained for industry, 7.6 million for agriculture, 5 million for construction, and 8.9 million for other sectors of the national economy. Secondary vocational-technical schools are an important part of the USSR’s system of universal secondary education.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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