Maryland To Put All Training Programs Under Jurisdiction of a

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Gov. Harry Hughes of Maryland, in response to the recommendations of his state advisory council on vocational-technical education, has announced that he will establish a new department to administer the state's employment and training programs.

The department, which would have to be approved by the state legislature, would consolidate a variety of employment and training programs currently being administered by several existing state agencies.

Although the specific responsibilities of the new state department have not yet been decided upon, its emphasis, according to Michael Morton, executive director of the state advisory council, will be on programs for the unemployed and underemployed populations in the state. He said it probably will not include programs currently administered by the state education department.

"My guess is that much of the delivery services for secondary and postsecondary programs will stay where they are because much of that is local," Mr. Morton said.

Under Task Force Review

Reorganizing the state's vocational education and employment and training programs was only one of 43 recommendations of the state advisory council that have been under review by an administrative task force appointed by the Governor. Its final report has not been released.

The review by Maryland officials of their skills-training programs and the problems pointed to by their recommendations are not uncommon. State officials nationwide have been concerned that fragmented employment and training programs have seriously jeopardized their ability to mount programs in a cost-effective manner at a time when training needs stemming from rapidly changing technology and rampant unemployment are soaring.

While the state advisory council concluded that the various agencies were "carrying out their assigned functions in a responsive manner," it reported that the lack of a comprehensive state policy and coordination among agencies contributed "to instances of duplication of effort and underutilization of available resources."

"The Council believes the governance structure suggested could provide the direction and emphasis needed to establish a truly responsive statewide system for systematic and complementary delivery of voca-tional and employment training," according to the report. There are about 12 "delivery systems" that are administered through seven different state agencies.

The state department of education is responsible for vocational rehabilitation, special education, vocational education in the public schools, and parallel programs in correctional institutions.

However, other state and federal programs are administered through the state board for community colleges, the state board for higher education, the department of licensing and regulation, the department of economic and community development, the department of health and mental hygiene, and the department of human resources.

Mr. Morton said that the recommendations have been reviewed by top agency officials and that all but two of them have been endorsed. He said the state board for community colleges has already begun discussing ways to ease the transition of students from secondary schools to postsecondary institutions.

"Our concern was that it was entirely possible for [a] secondary student to complete a program and not receive credit for that experience if he chose to go on to a community college," said Richard E. Cross, associate director of the state advisory council.

"The postsecondary schools in the state might not recognize the completion of a two- or three-year vocational-education program."

Profit-Making Status

Independent institutions are reluctant to grant advanced standing because of their profit-making status, according to Mr. Cross. For the state-supported institutions, he said, the problem exists because officials want to be assured that students are provided a complete program in each vocational and technical area offered.

In addition to reorganizing state-level administration and increasing communication between secondary schools and community colleges, the council also made recommendations for the following programs:

Vocational-Technical Rehabilitation. In order to compete with the private sector for qualified vocational-education instructors, the council has recommended upgrading salary schedules. The council has also urged cooperative agreements between local education agencies that would permit students to attend vocational-technical education programs of their choice.

Apprenticeship Training. The council has recommended that the responsibility for the administration of instructional expenses be transferred from the department of education to the State Apprenticeship and Training Council and that the state assume full funding for the program.

It was also recommended that the state investigate the "desirability" of establishing regional apprenticeship programs.

Special Education. The council's report noted that the assessment of handicapped students and their assignment to vocational-education programs often do not reflect "the true needs, interests, and abilities of the individual. Rather, the individual is placed in the most conveniently available program."

This problem could be corrected, according to the report, by establishing procedures that provide handicapped students with equal access to vocational-education programs.

The council also recommended that the state establish procedures for accurately determining the number of handicapped students currently enrolled in vocational programs and for conducting a study to determine the number of handi-capped students that could be served.

Vocational Guidance Counseling. The council recommended that local education agencies stress the establishment of job-placement programs for vocational-education graduates.

Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (ceta). For planning employment and training programs, the council recommended that prime sponsors and private-industry councils be encouraged to use local vocational facilities "to the maximum extent possible."

Vol. 01, Issue 40

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