Vocational Education Column

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Seven in 10 employers expect their job-training spending to outrun inflation over the next five years, but most expect businesses and employees--not the government--to foot the bill, according to a recent Price Waterhouse survey of 1,062 chief executive officers.

Spending on structured workforce training roughly equals 2 percent of the payroll costs at companies with 20 or more employees, says the survey, which was released last month.

More than half of the companies surveyed provide structured training. Nine out of 10 programs teach technical or job-specific skills; four out of 10 focus on reading, writing, mathematics, or other basic skills.

Working capital pays for 93 percent of these training programs. Nine in 10 of the executive officers said that employers have the primary responsibility to pay for training, while one in five said that the federal government should help pay for training.

The survey, "U.S. Business Views on Workforce Training,'' was commissioned by the Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae), the American Society for Training and Development, the National Retail Federation, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Sallie Mae, which acts as a secondary market for student loans, is studying how it could serve businesses that need loans to develop or expand job training.

Free copies are available from Sallie Mae's Human Capital Development Finance Department, 1050 Thomas Jefferson St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007; (202) 298-2966.

A cooking competition for inner-city teenagers preparing for careers in the kitchen could spin off into a school-to-work program next year.

Since 1990, the New York-based Careers Through Culinary Arts Program Inc. has placed nationally renowned chefs in home-economics classes in urban schools to teach cooking, prepare students for cooking and food-service careers, and act as mentors.

More than 10,000 students are competing in a series of cookoffs that began last month and ends June 7. The winners will walk away with half a million dollars in scholarships to such culinary schools as Le Cordon Bleu and Johnson and Wales University, among others.

Careers Through Culinary Arts, now in 150 high schools in six cities, and the American Culinary Federation plan next year to launch a school-to-work program offering postgraduate training in restaurants across the country.

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