ERIC Identifier: ED259209
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Author: Chase, Shirley A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.

Vocational Education and Defense Preparedness. Overview. ERIC Digest No. 39.

The nation's security is dependent on the technical competencies of personnel in the Armed Forces and defense-related industries. The new thrust to increase defense preparedness, concomitant with the technological revolution, has expanded the responsiblilities of the providers of technical training. Collaborative efforts of vocational education, the military services, and defense-related industries have been renewed to meet the defense preparedness needs of the nation.


The United States Department of Education has responded to the need for defense preparedness by:

--Establishing the Defense Preparedness Task Force (October 1981)

--Convening a Defense Preparednesss Review Group representing industry, public and proprietary postsecondary institutions, state educational agencies, trade associations, and training specialists from the private sector (September 20, 1982)

--Conducting the Vocational Education and Defense Preparedness Seminar (September 1982)

--Replicating the above seminar at the American Vocational Association convention (December 1983)

--Conducting a regional Defense Preparedness Seminar (sponsored by the Philadelphia Regional Office of the Department of Education; March 18, 1983)

--Sponsoring a supplemental study at the National Center for Research in Vocational Education featuring two national study tours of defense preparedness sites (Krause and Parker 1984)

The goals of the Vocational Education and Defense Preparedness Seminar, sponsored by the United States Departments of Defense and Education in cooperation with the American Vocational Association, were to identify current vocational education programs supporting defense preparedness, to describe the programs' origins and discuss means of replicating them, and to identify resource personnel who could provide assistance in developing similar progams.

The establishment of a permanent task force was proposed at the national seminar. The task force would assist the Department of Defense in such areas as basic and vocational education through regional, state, and local education agencies. Another function would be to draft an interagency agreement to promote further activities, programs, and projects on a regular basis (Bell 1982).

The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, United States Department of Education (Worthington 1982), proposed the following Federal initiatives:

--Identify the need for defense-related training for occupations requiring training of 1 year or longer

--Foster training performance that yields increased productivity

--Disseminate the best products of research and demonstration relating to defense preparedness

--Improve data management to keep personnel informed of needs, trends, and developments in skilled shortage areas

--Share information about skilled trade shortages with school personnel involved in recruiting students in those areas

--Complete national assessment of this comprehensive issue

--Encourage the replication of defense-related seminars

The Assistant Secretary also suggested that state and local agencies might:

--Work with key public and private officials to develop industrial potential and technology

--Meet with state economic development agencies to make certain they are updated on vocational achievements and capabilities

--Conduct defense preparedness seminars similar to the national model at the state or regional level

--Consult with industry and military installation representatives to design new training programs for emerging needs

--Distribute information about capabilities for training to industry

--Determine whether existing job vacancies in defense industries could be addressed in new training programs

--Create information networks for practitioners on defense preparedness topics

--Increase use of defense contractor and military personnel to improve instructional programs


While our armed services conduct much of their own training, they do contract for a substantial amount of training from business, industry, and educational institutions. Some training, such as artillery equipment maintenance, is specific to the military; however, many military training needs are similar to those provided by vocational education in the civilian sector (Boerrigter 1983).

This is substantiated by the fact that the National Center for Research in Vocational Education, under an agreement between the United States Departments of Defense and Education, has been involved since 1975 in a project that identifies, acquires, selects, and disseminates military-developed technical training materials applicable for use in civilian vocational and technical education programs. Many of the curriculum materials have direct applicability to the civilian sector (Chase 1980).

Increased emphasis is being placed on the training of reservists in today's high-technology environment. Communication and cooperation between Reserve unit commanders and nearby vocational training institutions can help build understanding of mutual needs and requirements and provide convenient, quality training opportunities (Morrow 1983).


The United States Department of Defense and the civilian educational community are partners in educating the nation's youth. This partnership can be broadened in vocational and technical education.

Military training needs are large scale; over 2 million personnel are in the active Armed Forces and over 350,000 more are recruited per year. In addition, over 90,000 reservists and National Guard enlist each year. Therefore, about 124,000 personnel are in specialized skill training at any given time, requiring 47,000 military and 7,000 civilian employees to conduct training at 80 locations.

Specialized skill training, the military term for vocational education, is actually broader than vocational education because it includes training in combat skills. Specialized skill training has two parts, initial training and progression training. Initial training develops apprentices who can go to units and complete training on the job. Progression training is given to career military personnel and is designed to upgrade skills or prepare personnel for supervisory positions (Bottoms 1982).


The opportunities for collaborative efforts between institutions delivering vocational education and defense industries are unlimited. The vocational-technical training capacity of this nation can be used for specialized training for active military personnel, Reserve forces, and civilian employees. Vocational and technical education represents an existing capacity that is already responsive to specific training needed by defense-related industries, but needs to be expanded (Bottoms 1982).

A recent study conducted at the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (Starr 1984) indicates that there is still a need to promote collaboration between vocational education and defense-related industries. This study indicates that only a few state vocational education agencies support either customized training or regular institutional programs specifically designed to meet the needs of firms doing defense work.

Furthermore, there appears to be an absence of information to help key staff in state vocational agencies understand the need for preparing and upgrading skilled workers for their state's defense industrial base. Only a few state vocational education agencies participating in the study have information about the size or diversity of their state's defense industrial base; others have no idea how to get such information.

The Congress and the United States Departments of Defense and Education have suggested that the defense industrial base is ailing and that the public vocational education systems and firms within the defense industrial base should be closely collaborating to ensure the availability of skill training. Vocational educators need to continue to monitor state and national defense-related training developments and to share models of training. Such efforts will assist them in developing stronger collaborative arrangements with defense-related industries.


Bell, T. H. "Opening Remarks." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND DEFENSE PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR PROCEEDINGS. Arlington, VA: American Vocational Association, 1982. ED 239 098.

Boerrigter, G. C. "Vocational Education for the Active Forces." VOCED 58 (March 1983):40-41.

Bottoms, G. "Capabilities of the Vocational Education Community." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND DEFENSE PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR PROCEEDINGS. Arlington, VA: American Vocational Association, 1982. ED 239 098.

Chase, S. A. MILITARY CURRICULUM MATERIALS FOR VOCATIONAL AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION. Progress Report. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1980.

Krause, S., and G. M. Parker. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL STUDY TOURS ON MILITARY PREPAREDNESS. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 244 068.

Morrow, B. W. "New Missions for the Reserves Mean Emphasis on Training." VOCED 58 (March 1983):42.

Starr, H. RESPONDING TO DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE TRAINING NEEDS. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 241 675.

Tucker, A. THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN NATIONAL DEFENSE. Occasional Paper No. 86. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1982. ED 222 705.

Worthington, R. M. "Vocational Education's Role in Defense Preparedness." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND DEFENSE PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR PROCEEDINGS. Arlington, VA: American Vocational Association, l982. ED 239 098.

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