Local Systems of Vocational Education and Job Training

Diversity, Interdependence, and Effectiveness

by W. Norton Grubb, Lorraine M. McDonnell


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This report examines the strategies that education and training institutions in eight communities (Fresno and San Jose, California; Jacksonville and Miami, Florida; Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa; and Philadelphia and Scranton, Pennsylvania) use to prepare individuals for employment and the ways in which those institutions respond to the federal and state policies they must implement. The authors argue that the effectiveness of individual institutions and programs cannot be assessed without taking into account the entire education and training system operating in the community. The findings indicate that not only do these institutions show substantial regularities in their interactions, but also that in some communities at least, they are quite interdependent, with a clear division of labor. Given this situation, it is difficult to understand how a particular community college, welfare-to-work program, or state economic development initiative operates unless one understands the entire array of institutions providing work-related education and training in a given community.

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