ERIC Identifier: ED292972
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Vocational Education-Job Training Partnership Act Coordination.
ERIC Digest No. 68.
In 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act required state
councils on vocational education to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of
coordination between vocational education and Job Training Partnership Act
(JTPA) regularly. Vocational educators, policymakers, and JTPA service providers
alike are developing an increasing awareness of the educational and economic
benefits of joint planning and coordination between vocational education and the
JTPA. However, some basic differences between the goals, planning procedures,
and operating practices of the public and private sectors have, in many cases,
made efforts to establish and implement cooperative vocational education-JTPA
This ERIC Digest reviews the barriers to coordination between vocational
education and JTPA programs, strategies for overcoming them, the overall status
of joint planning and coordination, and the results that can be obtained once
the barriers to cooperative planning have been overcome.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO COORDINATION?
Kinoshita (1987) identified significant differences between vocational
education and JTPA programs from the standpoints of administrative control,
program goals, target group, clients' economic status, program structure,
funding, curriculum or course of study, and evaluation outcomes.
Vocational education's concern for individuals' long-term educational
development (with employability being only one aspect of this development) has
resulted in vocational curricula that are highly structured, have relatively
high standards, and rely on highly trained, tenured faculty. JTPA programs, on
the other hand, are mandated to provide short-term skill training or other
employability programs leading to immediate job placement and earnings gain.
Consequently, they tend to be shorter, more flexible, geared toward less
academically proficient students, narrower in focus (often tailored to meet the
needs of a specific employer), and staffed by trainers who do not possess the
credentials or certification of typical vocational education teachers.
As a mainstream institution, vocational education serves the general
in-school population (including disadvantaged and disabled individuals), whereas
JTPA programs must serve economically disadvantaged individuals (usually adults
and out-of-school youth). The typical clients of vocational education are
dependent on parents or guardians, whereas JTPA clients are usually
self-supporting although they are often without steady incomes or dependent on
public assistance programs.
Vocational education's comprehensive curriculum, with its co- and
extracurricular activities, stands in sharp contrast to the specialized,
concentrated, and short-term skill training typically provided under JTPA.
Perhaps even more important are the significant differences between the
evaluation outcomes used to assess the two types of programs. Vocational
education is typically evaluated in terms of a wide range of outcomes (including
whether students continue their education, the contributions of skill training
to basic skills, students' mastery of basic life competencies, and employment
outcomes), whereas JTPA programs place more emphasis on employment-related
outcomes (earnings, employment status, relationship of training to job obtained,
job satisfaction, employer satisfaction, programs' abilities to meet employers'
All of these differences, coupled with the fact that vocational education
receives primarily state and local funding, whereas the JTPA is federally
funded, have created an array of barriers. They include "turf" issues (disputed
roles and responsibilities); differing program eligibility, staffing, budgetary,
matching funds, and reporting requirements; lack of coordination and
understanding (both within and between the two systems); personal or
philosophical differences among key administrators; inadequate understanding of
the laws, roles, and procedures of the other system; differences in local
service area boundaries; and the lack of a history of successful coordination
(Lewis, Ferguson, and Card 1987).
HOW CAN THESE BARRIERS TO COORDINATION BE OVERCOME?
en this question was put to a national sample of JTPA administrators, they
offered the following suggestions to vocational educators: improve
communication, keeping the Service Delivery Area (SDA) informed about programs;
have joint meetings and do more joint planning; be more responsive to labor
market needs; upgrade and update programs; put more emphasis on placement of
JTPA participants; be more flexible and responsive to the needs of JTPA, offer
more short-term and open-entry/open-exit programs, and be less defensive; become
better informed about JTPA; improve relationships among state agencies and
between state and local agencies; coordinate better within vocational education
itself; fund programs jointly; accept performance-based contracts; and serve
those outside the normal school population (Lewis 1987).
A national sample of vocational educators responded with the following
recommendations to JTPA administrators: expand their concept of training,
shifting focus from on-the-job training to more in-depth instruction; reduce
documentation and paperwork to simplify the process of serving JTPA clients;
conduct more joint planning; keep an open mind when selecting service providers;
and reduce the political influence on private industry council decisions (Lewis
In the first annual report on joint planning and coordination of programs
conducted under the Perkins Act and JTPA, Lewis, Ferguson, and Card (1987)
concluded that federal policymakers should consider reserving a portion of the
funds authorized under both JTPA and the Perkins Act to be distributed upon
approval of a joint plan submitted by the state agencies responsible for
administering the acts. They suggested that state administrators (1) establish
agreements for representatives from vocational education JTPA to serve on each
other's planning teams or (2) call upon third-party assistance to improve the
relationships between vocational education and JTPA program providers. On the
local level, they recommended that Private Industry Councils recruit influential
vocational educators as members.
Lewis et al. (1987) also suggested that state and local administrators from
both systems consider taking the following direct actions (which do not require
any changes in legislation or regulations):
--Improve communication through joint conferences, membership on councils or
committees, and addition of staff members who have had experience with the other
--Reduce the risk of performance-based contracts to educational institutions
by providing partial payment for outcomes, such as course completion, over which
the institutions have more control than they do over employment.
--Supplement on-the-job training with classroom training to broaden the
preparation of clients and increase their attractiveness to employers.
WHAT IS THE OVERALL STATUS OF JOINT PLANNING AND COORDINATION?
There appeared to be very little joint planning during 1986. Although a large
proportion of JTPA clients (especially in rural areas and smaller cities) was
being served by public vocational education, there was little coordination
between vocational education and JTPA providers. Rather, JTPA providers tended
to find what they considered to be suitable training programs and contracted to
have their clients participate in the vocational programs (Lewis, Ferguson, and
The second annual report was more encouraging, however. Ninety-seven percent
of the SDAs surveyed engaged in some type of collaborative effort with public
vocational education institutions in the program year ending in June 1987.
Ninety-one percent of the SDA administrators described their relationship with
public vocational-technical schools as satisfactory or better, with 71 percent
describing their relationship as good, very good, or excellent. Almost 90
percent of the postsecondary institutions studied have some relationship with
JTPA; 68 percent provide direct services, and an additional 19 percent provide
direct services, and an additional 19 percent provide facilities or instructors
for JTPA programs that they do not conduct themselves (Lewis 1987).
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL JOINT PROGRAMS
Joint Programs at the Secondary Level. Kinoshita (1987) suggested that, in
view of secondary vocational education's highly structured nature, extra- and
cocurricular activities, and commitment to serving the intire in-school
population (without special emphasis on any one special needs group), the
relationship between secondary vocational education and JTPA is best limited to
one in which comprehensive secondary schools function as JTPA service recipients
rather than service providers. The following types of joint programs, in which
JTPA resources are targeted toward in-school vocational students, can allow
vocational education and JTPA providers to collaborate, if not coordinate, to
meet mutual goals: dropout prevention programs for alienated youth;
school-to-work transition programs to assist students with career counseling and
guidance, job placement, and employability skills; work-study and summer
employment programs for students needing financial assistance; partnership
programs that promote involvement of business and industry, labor organizations,
community-based organizations, and government (as employer) with education; and
cooperative education, experience-based education, and other types of work
experience programs (Kinoshita 1987).
The remedial education program in the Escambia County School District in
Florida is one such joint program. Under the program, the local Private Industry
Council and the Florida Department of Education provided funds for the purchase
of a computer system and software to address basic and remedial education for
JTPA-eligible youth and adults for day and evening sessions, respectively. The
JTPA agency has a performance-based contract according to which the school
receives $117 for every 1.5 grade-level increase in basic skills for in-school,
at-risk youth (Lewis, Ferguson, and Card 1987).
Joint Programs at the Postsecondary Level. Kinoshita (1987) observed that,
because they frequently offer a variety of completion objectives (degrees and
certificates) and because they are willing to accept students who have limited
learning objectives, postsecondary vocational institutions (especially community
colleges) hold more promise for developing programs that are jointly funded by
the Perkins Act and JTPA. He suggested two roles for the community
college--development of occupational skill centers to provide job-specific
skills training and development of a dual system in which a "training arm,"
offering on-site job training, functions side by side with the institution's
traditional vocational education program.
In the Central Pennsylvania Industry Education Consortium, an
industry-education coordinator, who functions as part of an economic development
team, facilitates industrial training by arranging class-size training with an
educational institution and applying for state-appropriated training funds for
customized training in occupations in which there are not enough trained
workers. Information on business contact and training opportunities is also
shared (Lewis, Ferguson, and Card 1987).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Kinoshita, Daniel Y. PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES, EXAMPLES OF COORDINATION,
RECOMMENDATIONS, VOL. 1 OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND THE JTPA: ASSESSING THE
PARTNERSHIP. Honolulu: Hawaii State Council on Vocational Education, 1987.
Lewis, Morgan V. VOCATIONAL EDUCATION-JOB TRAINING PARTNERSHIP ACT
COORDINATION. SECOND ANNUAL REPORT. Columbus: The National Center for Research
in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1987. (ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. ED 290 910)
Lewis, Morgan V., Marilyn Ferguson, and Michael Card. VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION-JOB TRAINING PARTNERSHIP ACT COORDINATION. FIRST ANNUAL REPORT.
Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio
State University, 1987. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 284 075)