ERIC Identifier: ED289997
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Vocational Education in Community-Based Organizations.
Overview. ERIC Digest No. 66.
Community-based organizations (CBOs) have a strong tradition of
providing effective vocational services to special groups, including disabled,
disadvantaged, and limited-English speaking individuals. This digest discusses
the evolution of CBOs and their past, present, and future roles in vocational
education. Special emphasis is placed on the features of CBOs that make them
effective partners in vocational training programs, some of the barriers that
have stood in the way of successful partnerships, and procedures for developing
and implementing effective partnerships between vocational education and CBOs.
WHAT ARE CBOs AND WHY ARE THEY NECESSARY?
Since the term "community-based organization" first came into use in the
1960s, its meaning has changed considerably. Initially, the term was used in a
rather narrow sense to refer to private, nonprofit organizations that: (1)
claimed to represent ethnic, minority, and other low-income groups; (2) were to
be run by representatives of these groups; and (3) planned to gear their
services toward meeting the needs of disadvantaged persons (Bailis, 1987). ED
CBOs were initially funded under the Comprehensive Employment and Training
Act (CETA), which stated that "due consideration" should be given to
"community-based organizations of demonstrated effectiveness" and which
mentioned five specific groups: (1) the black-oriented Opportunities
Industrialization Centers of America; (2) the Hispanic-oriented SER (Service
Employment Redevelopment); (3) the National Urban League; (4) local community
action agencies; and (5) Operation Mainstream, an organization providing public
service employment for senior citizens. CBOs received additional funding under
the Youth Employment and Demonstration Projects Act of 1977. Most recently, the
Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act required states to provide financial
assistance to joint programs of eligible Title I recipients and CBOs in such
areas as outreach, transitional services, prevocational educational preparation,
prevocational programs targeted to special needs groups (including inner-city,
rural, non-English speaking, and impoverished youth), career intern programs,
assessment of students with respect to vocational education and jobs, and
guidance and counseling (Bailis, 1987).
There appears to be a general consensus that the neighborhood (community)
focus of CBOs enables them to relate to, know, and thus be more responsive to
the needs of local or special populations than mainstream institutions (such as
schools and state- or national-level employment services) can be. For this
reason, Bailis (1987) asserts that when dealing with special needs persons
(especially disadvantaged, minority, or limited-English speaking), CBOs are more
effective than their mainstream vocational education counterparts in organizing
and delivering such prevocational services as outreach and recruitment, intake
and assessment, counseling and career guidance, and motivational programs.
Poulard (1983) attributes the special effectiveness of CBOs in working with
disadvantaged and minority clients to "the business acumen, the
people-orientation, the command of the content of a program area, the flexible
operations of the training program, the commitment to follow-through with a
program for the placement of graduates, and the accountability back to the
neighborhood" (p. 4).
BENEFITS OF PARTNERSHIPS
As Bailis (1987) points out, despite their advantages from the standpoint of
understanding their clients' unique problems and needs and commanding their
trust, most CBOs are not in a position to provide the highest-quality vocational
programs on their own. Hence the need for collaboration between CBOs and
vocational education. The partnership between Milwaukee Area Technical College
(MATC) and SER that was made possible after IBM donated a $150,000 computer
system (Zaragoza and Huber, 1987) illustrates some specific contributions to be
made and benefits to be derived from a partnership among a CBO, a postsecondary
institution, and a private sector corporation. Each party brought an essential
element to the partnership: IBM supplied the necessary educational equipment;
SER provided the necessary classroom space and capacity to recruit students,
screen them, and provide them with counseling and other supportive services; and
MATC supplied instructors who were capable of teaching customized courses for
data entry operators and an employer who was willing to hire SER students once
they gained the necessary skills. Perhaps even more important, each member of
the partnership has benefited from its collaborative venture: IBM and Automated
Data Entry (the firm that agreed to hire the trained workers) reaped the
benefits of positive publicity; MATC managed to build a bridge between itself
and a large Hispanic community, which has served as a feeder of students into
the college; and from SER's perspective, the partnership provided additional
credibility and justification for funding requests.
WHAT TYPES OF PARTNERSHIPS ARE POSSIBLE?
A wide array of partnerships is possible, depending on such factors as the
size and resources of the individual CBO involved in the partnership, its target
clientele, its overall goals, and the types and extent of services that it has
developed during the course of its existence. The program development model
proposed by the Opportunities Academy of Management Training, Inc. (1986),
includes the following components:
--client identification; --assessment of client needs; --development of a
service plan; --allocation of resources for services and placement; --delivery
of prevocational/basic skills, education and training, and job development and
placement services; --evaluation and followup.
Possible types of prevocational training include occupational exploration,
labor market information, job survival and basic skills, bilingual and literacy
training, and job search and transition skills. On-the-job training, classroom
instruction, work experience training, and preparation for apprenticeship are
among the types of education and training services that can be provided through
a partnership arrangement.
In his discussion of the range of expertise that CBOs can bring to
partnerships with vocational education, Bailis (1987) mentions the following six
program foci: (1) vocational orientation and counseling; (2) remedial education;
(3) career education in an alternative high school setting; (4) employment and
work experience programs; (5) combined/comprehensive programs, and (6)
innovative approaches. Examples of innovative approaches described by Bailis
are: Jobs for Youth, a program that provides business training, capital, and
technical assistance to eligible Boston youth desiring to start their own
businesses; and The Foundation Collaborative Summer Youth Employment
Career/Vocational Exploration Program, a Philadelphia area program that offers
6-week, 20-hour-a-week placements in private sector, career-oriented summer jobs
for inschool disadvantaged youth and 8-week, 35-hour-a-week jobs for college
students to monitor the youth and perform related administrative tasks.
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIPS
In its technical assistance guide to forming partnerships between vocational
education and CBOs, the Opportunities Academy of Management Training, Inc.
(1986) lists the tradition of isolationism among business, vocational education,
and CBOs as the greatest barrier to successful partnerships with CBOs. The guide
mentions "turf protection, unwillingness to expend funds for services that
another agency can provide, and competition among agencies for clients" (p. 15)
as problems that have posed coordination problems even among CBOs, let alone
between CBOs and vocational education.
Bailis (1987) suggests some strategies for overcoming various technical
barriers to successful partnerships with CBOs. Differences in the funding cycles
of the vocational education institution and CBO involved in a given partnership
can be overcome by having the CBO be flexible about adopting a longer term plan.
Differences in perspectives, although somewhat more difficult to resolve, may
often be eased by face-to-face meetings between representatives from both
parties involved in the partnership. Concerns about CBO fiscal and accounting
systems, which may indeed be real, may be alleviated by such strategies as
contracting to CBOs that have demonstrated an ability to manage and account for
funds, working with CBOs to develop appropriate accounting procedures, or using
intermediate organizations to ensure that the CBOs can develop accounting
procedures that can meet the requirements established by school system
DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND CBOS
The technical assistance guide published by the Opportunities Academy of
Management Training, Inc. (1986) includes the following 12-point plan for
establishing local partnerships:
--Assessing agency capabilities --Identifying the best role for the agency
within the framework of the planned Service Delivery Area (SDA) (or the area
served by the given Private Industry Council (PIC)) and determining the
appropriate scope of the work --Preparing information on the strengths of the
CBO and vocational educational institution that are to work as partners
--Providing no-cost inservice training --Seeking membership in the local PIC
--Attending PIC and PIC subcommittee meetings --Reviewing and submitting
testimony on the job training plan developed --Being open to multiple methods of
partnership --Visiting the vocational education schools and other service
providers --Exploring joint activities --Exploring multiple funding sources
--Accepting factors that are beyond the control of the CBO and the vocational
The academy's 7-point plan for establishing state partnerships calls for: (1)
identifying overlapping education and training and responsibilities; (2)
developing a database for access to information; (3) developing an interagency
communication system; (4) establishing an education and training state-level
resource center; (5) preparing guidelines for nstitutions and CBOs in individual
SDAs; (6) using client-based subcommittees to encourage interagency cooperation;
and (7) disseminating information on successful collaborative ventures between
CBOs and vocational education.
When selecting a CBO with which to collaborate, Zaragoza and Huber (1987)
recommend picking an organization that has a solid track record in the area of
employment and training, good linkages with area employers, a strong business
advisory committee, and consistency in meeting contract requirements. They
suggest contacting the local private industry council and requesting information
about local CBOs funded by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).
Descriptions of exemplary partnerships between CBOs and the vocational
education sector are included in Bailis (1987) and the Opportunities Academy
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Bailis, L. W. COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: THE
PATH TO PARTNERSHIP. Information Series no. 319. Columbus: The National Center
for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1987.
Opportunities Academy of Management Training, Inc. COMMUNITY BASED
ORGANIZATIONS, JOB TRAINING PARTNERSHIP ACT AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: A
PARTNERSHIP DESIGNED TO REDUCE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GUIDE.
Philadelphia: Opportunities Academy of Management Training, Inc., 1986. ED 272
Poulard, O. W. THE EXPANDING ROLE OF COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS:
IMPLICATIONS FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION. Occasional Paper no. 90. Columbus: The
National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University,
1983. ED 227 259.
Zaragoza, F., and R. Huber. "Customized Training with CBOs." VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION JOURNAL 62 (1987): 32-33.