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States Launch Training for Growth Industries

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Washington--The state boards of education in 20 states and Puerto Rico--in conjunction with state economic-development officials--have begun "quick-start" programs designed to train vocational-education students specifically for new and expanding industries, according to the Education Department's annual report to the Congress on vocational-education programs.

The growth of such customized vocational programs, one of several trends described in the department's annual report, is credited with strengthening schools' ties with the private sector and with influencing local economic-development decisions.

A study of three states, conducted last year by the National Center for Research in Vocational Education, found that the availability of customized training was an important factor in business executives' location and expansion plans, according to the report.

Several of the 21 state directors of vocational education said they believed the quick-start programs were responsible for slowing down the migration of workers to other regions, the report noted.

The estimated cost of the short-term training programs during the 1981-82 school year was $28.8 million, ranging from a high of $7.6 million in Ohio to a low of $100,000 in Idaho, according to the report.

During that period, the report noted, about 110,000 people were trained in the programs, which were supported largely by state funds. Businesses, industries, and local education agencies often provided in-kind contributions such as facilities, training sites, or instruction, the report explained.

Overall, the report noted, nearly 16.9 million students were enrolled in secondary and postsecondary vocational programs nationwide during the 1980-81 school year, at a cost of $7.3 billion.

About 10.5 million of these students were enrolled in secondary vocational programs.

Other trends in vocational education noted in the report include:

Women in nontraditional programs. During the last few years, as a result of efforts to attract women into nontraditional training programs, the number of women enrolling in trade and industrial-education programs has increased. Despite those efforts, there were about 28,000 fewer women in trade and industrial programs during the 1980-81 school year than the previous year, and the recruitment of women still remains a major concern.

Handicapped students. More than 550,000 handicapped students were enrolled in vocational-education programs in 1980-81; 437,397 of those students were enrolled in vocational programs at the secondary level, reflecting a substantial increase over the previous year's enrollment. Vocational education served 34.6 percent of the total number of handicapped students in grades 9 through 12.

Support services for disadvantaged students. During the 1980-81 school year, the number of disadvantaged students receiving support services in vocational-education programs increased about 26 percent over the previous year.

Agricultural courses. Enrollment in agricultural education dropped by 12.1 percentage points during the 1980-81 school year, the largest decline of any program area. About 664,000 of the 843,401 students enrolled in agriculture education were secondary students. About 628,000 new workers are needed annually in agriculture and agribusiness.

Business courses. Student enrollment in business-education programs increased by 6 percentage points during the 1980-81 school year, bringing the total to 3.6 million students. The increase reflects the addition of 215,000 students.

Health-career programs. Education for health occupations is "one of the most rapidly growing" programs in vocational education." During the 1980-81 school year, about 950,000 students were enrolled in such programs, a 13-percent increase over the previous school year. Nearly 80 percent of the all enrollments were in postsecondary and adult programs.

Cooperative education. During the 1980-81 school year about 622,185 students were enrolled in cooperative-education programs. Of that total, 518,169 students were in programs at the secondary level. Cooperative-education students earned over $2.5 billion that year.

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