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Educators Urged To Absorb Adult-Training Programs

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Education and training programs for adult workers are a quickly growing enterprise that, despite their roots in private industry, should be absorbed into the nation's general education system, a new report argues.

Drawing on a three-year study, the report, to be released this week by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, states that corporations already invest $60 billion a year in adult training, while the military spends an additional $18 billion on such programs.

Despite the massive spending, programs aimed at upgrading adults' skills neglect about two-thirds of a population whose need for further education is growing at a rapid pace, the author, Nell P. Eurich, writes in The Learning Industry: Education for Adult Workers.

Current efforts to reach adults are "poorly distributed and still inadequate for the magnitude of change presented daily by technological advances," says Mr. Eurich, a former college professor and administrator.

Such a need exists at the same time services by private training contractors are booming and corporations are stepping up their own training programs, the study found.

The report suggests that educators increase their efforts to develop more programs for adults hungry for further training, notes Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie8Foundation, in the book's foreword.

Among the specific recommendations advanced to close some of the loopholes in training efforts, Ms. Eurich suggests centralizing administration of all federal work-related education and training programs under the U.S. Labor Department and undertaking a greater curriculum exchange between educators, business, and the military.

Many burgeoning training programs, the study found, focus on professionals who, due to changing technology, are regularly forced to upgrade their knowledge. The influence of technology also eventually filters down to most other workers as well, according to Ms. Eurich.

In many areas, community colleges, vocational programs, and proprietary schools have begun to find a new audience by serving adult workers, Ms. Eurich adds.

Still, other adult groups remain largely neglected, the author says, observing that displaced and unemployed workers, immigrants, and welfare recipients are often victims of inadequate education and training.

Copies of The Learning Industry, at $10 each for paperback and $25 for hardcover, can be ordered from the Princeton University Press, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, N.J. 08648, or by phoning (609) 896-1344. Discounts are available for bulk orders.

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