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A.V.A Head Criticizes Bills To Replace CETA

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Existing vocational schools are in a better position to provide job training than are agencies that would be charged with that responsibility under legislation recently introduced in both the House and the Senate, officials of the American Vocational Association (ava) maintain.

Gene Bottoms, speaking for the 55,000-member ava as its executive director, said he is disappointed with the bills being considered by Congress to replace the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (ceta) because neither piece of legislation would establish "a functional relationship" between job-training programs for the economically disadvantaged and existing vocational-education programs operated by states and school districts.

In fact, Mr. Bottoms said in an interview, the bills appear to bypass altogether the vocational schools, which he said are well equipped to provide training and employment skills. He said that the ava will propose during Congressional hearings later this month that funds appropriated in the new employment and training legislation "flow through state and local boards of education," rather than through labor and employment agencies.

"What better way to mainstream the economically disadvantaged than through existing secondary and postsecondary vocational institutions?" he said. "I know that much of the training will be done by secondary and postsecondary vocational-technical schools."

Strengthen Coordination

A study by the Department of Education substantiates Mr. Bottoms's claim that vocational schools play a key role in the federal government's job-training efforts. The study also supports his contention that coordination between job-training programs and vocational education needs to be strengthened--a problem not addressed in either bill, he says.

State and local educational agen-cies now provide a large portion of the training for the Department of Labor, which oversees the ceta program, according to a study conducted by the National Institute of Education (nie) and published last year as part of a larger report on the status of vocational-education programs.

In 1978, 54 state and territorial vocational-education directors reported that they received about $152 million to administer vocational-education programs out of approximately $754 million that was made available to ceta prime sponsors, according to the nie study.

But the nie study concluded that the figure "underreports ceta funds used by public-education institutions. Clearly, by even the most conservative estimates, the flow of ceta dollars into educational institutions and programs is very large."

Labor Department officials estimate that as much as 65 percent of their training budget goes to local education agencies.

Yet, the nie study reported: "Co-ordination between education and employment and training programs is difficult to achieve because the systems to be coordinated are diverse, fragmented, and complex."

Although vocational programs serve as a prime training vehicle, current ceta legislation and the proposed legislative measures only allude to joint efforts between public agencies responsible for education and those responsible for job training.

Under provisions of the Training for Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate on Feb. 2, employment and training programs would be administered on the local level by "private industry councils" composed primarily of business and industry representatives appointed by the Governor. The councils also would include representatives from education agencies, local government, organized labor, and community organizations.

The fiscal 1983 appropriation would be about $3.9 billion under the measure, which is co-sponsored by Senators Dan Quayle, Republican of Indiana; Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts; Paula Hawkins, Republican of Florida; and Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island.

The "Jobs for Training" bill also would permit the private-industry councils to plan, or serve in an advisory capacity to, vocational-education programs.

Structure Retained

A House bill, entitled the "Community Partnership for Employment and Training Act," introduced Jan. 25 by Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, would retain much of ceta's present administrative structure and would authorize $5 billion for the program in 1983.

Mr. Bottoms said he did not think that Senator Quayle's bill was meant to open up the possibility that vocational-education programs would be transferred to the Labor Department, widely rumored as a consideration of the Administration. And he emphasized that he did not believe the states would be willing to turn over vocational education to "a federally structured board."

Councils Unacceptable

He said communities would not accept the joint advisory councils envisioned in the Quayle bill because ceta is a federally funded program, while vocational education is supported largely with state and local money.

"Why create parallel programs?" Mr. Bottoms asked. "Why not make use of institutions that already have a good tie-in with employment and training programs?"

The "Training for Jobs" bill is among the proposed employment and training measures scheduled for discussion at a joint session later this month of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity and the House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities.

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