Education, Business Should Cooperate In Preparing Students for Careers
Rochester, N.Y.--Businesses hire young people and educators prepare them for employment, but the two groups do not understand each other--or the social trends affecting each other's work--well enough.
That was one agreement reached last week by speakers and participants attending a four-day workshop designed to raise the awareness of both groups about each other's perspective on youth employment and training for employment.
In a series of discussion sessions, approximately 76 participating vocational-guidance counselors and employment-training specialists from across the country talked with invited speakers about education's need for self-assessment to better prepare students for jobs in a changing job market.
The workshop was sponsored by Singer Career Systems, a division of the Singer Company, which is the Labor Department's largest private operator of Job Corps employment training centers for young adults. The company arranged the training workshop, the first of the kind held under its aegis, with the assistance of the National Association of Industry-Education Cooperation, an umbrella organization of business, industry, labor and education groups that seeks to improve coordination between schools and industry.
Wayne David, a spokesman for Singer, said that because of the company's heavy involvement in youth training and employment, the workshop was planned as a service to inform Job Corps counselors and vocational counselors about current trends that will affect their roles as employment counselors.
Vocational education is currently under review by the Reagan Administration, and in a report not yet presented to Congress, Administration officials emphasize the need to identify employment areas in which there are shortages of skilled workers and to supply resources for training workers in those areas.
Efforts outlined in the proposal would be focused on potential dropouts, vocational-education students in secondary schools, unemployed youths in depressed and rural areas, and adults and postsecondary-vocational-edu6cation students. With the Administration's plan to abolish the Education Department, some speakers said there is increasing speculation that vocational education will be transferred to the Department of Labor. But federal officials have not formally proposed such a move.
Revisions in federal programs, combined with changes in technology, place an increasing demand on the education system to interpret those changes and make adjustments, according to the speakers.
During the 1970's, when educators and the federal government both emphasized "career education," there was no systematic cooperation between the schools and the larger community, according to Dr. Edwin L. Herr, director of counseling and educational psychology at Pennsylvania State University.
Large numbers of young people chose a career without an understanding of what that choice would mean, he charged.
"Schools were in many ways insulated and the larger community was not being used as a natural laboratory" to test students' concepts of careers, Mr. Herr said.
He advocated a periodic exam of "the context and stimuli of career education" to bring into focus ways the education system can avoid giving students negative or inaccurate information. "I think such a perspective is particularly appropriate at the moment because career education programs, like many other aspects of the educational and social-service systems of this country," may be modified or terminated by the Reagan Administration.
Raymond A. Wasil, director of the division of guidance and testing at the Ohio Department of Education, suggested the largest problem between business and education is one of perceptions.
"In education, we do a good job of educating for education's sake, but most of the time we do a poor job of preparing people to enter the world of work," he said. "Business is not out to get education, business is saying 'here is what our needs are and here is the type of person we need'," Mr. Wasil said. "The business community needs help and support and ideas, and we need to provide that help because we're both dealing with the same product."