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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy 4 U.S. Training in International Perspective1 In the preceding chapter we examined postsecondary training in the United States and found it wanting in many ways. Our concern about these shortcomings is heightened by a number of studies suggesting that many American workers receive less effective training than their overseas counterparts (see, for example, Dertouzos et al., 1989; U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990; Lynch, 1991, 1993; Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 1990; Kochan and Osterman, 1991; Kolberg and Smith, 1992; Marshall and Tucker, 1992; National Academy of Engineering, 1993). The committee could not in the time available for its work evaluate the effectiveness of American in comparison with foreign training.2 We do believe, however, that in an increasingly competitive international economy, the United States should not ignore possible lessons from the education and training practices of its principal trading partners. Those who extol the virtues of training abroad frequently cite three key features of foreign training systems: close connections to employers, national systems of skills standards and skills certification, and pathways along which young people move in comparatively straightforward fashion from school to work. To get an idea of the different ways training systems might design these features, we looked at the approaches used in Australia, Britain, Germany, and Japan.3 It is critical to note, however, that national differences in the design of education and training institutions and in political, economic, and social environments preclude any simplistic notions of comparability and transferability of foreign training practices. The most obvious difficulty is that
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy postsecondary training as we define it in this report does not have a direct analog in other countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1989:Ch. 2). Even when educational or training institutions appear to be similar, differences in levels of prior preparation confound comparison. In Japan, for example, some observers note (e.g., Marshall and Tucker, 1992:52) that the average high school graduate reaches a level of achievement in the native language, science, and mathematics equal to or higher than that of the average American baccalaureate degree holder. If there are wide differences in achievement levels of secondary school graduates, it becomes harder to compare the performance of different postsecondary training systems by comparing student outcomes (Stevenson, 1992). In addition, school-trained Americans will be likely to have different sets of skills than their company-trained German and Japanese counterparts (Marshall and Tucker, 1992). Good data for comparing postsecondary training and skill levels across nations are lacking, in part because of the difficulty of collecting equivalent and reliable information on such topics as school achievement, formal classroom training within firms, and informal, on-the-job training (Kochan and Osterman, 1991:17; Bradburn and Gilford, 1990:6-9). Difficulties in comparison also result from national differences in political, economic, and social structures and traditions. Government policies supporting high minimum wage levels, as in Germany, give employers a larger stake in training highly skilled workers who can justify high wages than the stake of employers in countries where they can pay less. Lifetime employment guarantees, a tradition in large Japanese firms, similarly encourage employers to provide training without fear of losing their investment if workers leave. Osterman (1988:Ch. 6) describes many other differences in institutions and behavior patterns that can "redirect and mutate" training models as they are transported from one country to another. Given that a careful and comprehensive evaluation of comparative training systems and their results was beyond the committee's charge, we set modest goals for our international analyses. We looked at overseas training systems in the hope of learning something about how other countries approach the three key features noted above. We aimed at broadening our perspective rather than finding definitive answers to the problems we have identified in American training. CONNECTIONS TO EMPLOYERS Foreign training systems feature strong links to employers. In the countries we examined there are efforts to involve employers in training and to require businesses to invest in training, both for entering and for current workers.
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy Qualifying training in those countries is characterized by far greater employer involvement than is true in the United States. Germany and Japan have well-established, though quite different, approaches, with the former relying on work-based training and the latter emphasizing close ties between schools and firms. Australia and Britain have over the past 15 years sought to engage employers in preparing people for the workplace, though they chose quite different methods and experienced varying degrees of success. As in the United States, training for individuals already at work is largely the responsibility of firms, but we find evidence in Australia, Britain, Germany, and Japan of public policies that encourage or require employers to invest in training. ! Germany The clearest and most widely cited example of employer involvement in preparing young people for the workplace is found in Germany, with its "dual system" in which young people train as apprentices on the job under the tutelage of experienced masters while also pursing classroom instruction for 1 or 2 days per week. The German apprenticeship system builds on a centuries-old tradition. The national government took steps in 1969 to strengthen the system, in reaction to a declining interest in vocational training among young people and to union concerns that apprentices were being exploited. The reforms were successful in revitalizing this work-based approach to training. By the late 1980s 60 percent of the German work force had completed an apprenticeship (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990:87). About one-quarter of all firms sponsors apprentices (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1990b:17). A 1975 law requires all businesses to pay a tax of up to 0.25 percent of company payroll if in any year the total number of apprenticeship openings is not 12.5 percent above the number of students applying for apprenticeship positions. The tax has never been levied (Kolberg and Smith, 1992:59). At age 15 or 16, upon completion of mandatory full-time schooling, most youths enter one of about 380 apprenticeships in crafts and trades, industries, and business. Would-be apprentices have strong reasons to perform well in school because the best students are awarded the highest quality and highest status training slots (Soskice, 1994). After serving as apprentices for 3 years and passing a written and practical national exam, apprentices become journeymen. After 3 more years of taking courses and working on the job, a journeyman may take an exam to become a master. Only masters are allowed to open businesses.
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy Employers pay the costs of training at the worksite, including the time of the masters doing the training; they also pay wages to the trainees, although wages are only about one-third of the adult unskilled wage rate (Lynch, 1993:17). Further, smaller firms receive some assistance from both the federal and the state governments for training costs. The apprenticeship training curricula, examinations, and certification procedures are developed nationally through industry-union-government collaboration. (See below for discussion of approaches to standardization and quality.) German apprenticeships have such a high reputation for quality that they are able to attract even very academically prepared young people. Each year, a significant fraction of youth completing the matriculation certificate (Abitur), which would allow them to enroll in universities, choose instead to become apprentices (although many will later pursue a university education). Despite the considerable success of apprenticeships as qualifying training, concern over the increased importance of theoretical knowledge is shifting the typical age of entry into apprenticeship upward, to 18 or 19. In Germany, it is increasingly common for students to attend a year in a vocational or special preparatory school before becoming apprentices (Casey, 1991). Japan Japanese firms also are strongly involved in qualifying training, through quite different means than in Germany. In Japan, employers are very influential primarily by their hiring practices, coupled with a large commitment to on-the-job training for new employees. Japanese young people are required to attend school for 9 years; 94 percent continue on for another 3 years of secondary school (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1990b:17). Twenty-six percent of youths aged 15-18 attend vocationally oriented high schools; the rest pursue academic courses (Kochan and Osterman, 1991:29). Employers do not expect secondary schools to emphasize technical skills, and for this reason the Japanese educational system is often thought to be very little involved in occupational training. In fact, though, the entire schooling process has a "vocational cast" (Kochan and Osterman, 1991:28) because schools are closely linked to employers through unique labor recruitment practices (Rosenbaum and Kariya, 1989). High school students not planning to continue their educations find jobs through their schools. Employers typically form links with a few high schools; they offer jobs to those schools, and teachers nominate and rank students for those jobs. Employers interview nominees and make final selections. How a student performs in school is very important in determining whether he or she will be nominated for a desirable job. This approach to linking schools and firms is also found (though to varying degrees) in
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy Japanese sub-baccalaureate institutions: private 2-year colleges that are similar to American community colleges and that are largely vocational in nature; technical colleges that combine upper secondary and postsecondary education; and special training schools and miscellaneous schools, which provide a variety of vocational courses. German apprenticeships and Japanese recruitment practices are well-established ways of linking firms to the process of preparing young people for work. By contrast, Australia and Britain have undertaken major revisions in their training systems in recent years; both have sought to increase the involvement of employers in the training process. Australia Australia's reforms began in the 1970s in response to growing unemployment and underemployment among the nearly two-thirds of young people who left high school after grade 10, at age 15 or 16, rather than staying on to complete the narrowly academic 11th and 12th grades. Various changes associated with the inclusion of more general and work-related courses in grades 11 and 12 caused high school completion rates to nearly double in a decade, growing from 34 to 64 percent between 1981 and 1990 (Australian Education Council, 1990). More recent reforms involve revisions to the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system that dominates post-high school training for young Australians. The system provides full- and part-time courses for high school graduates and those who leave high school before graduation in TAFE Colleges, which focus heavily on initial vocational courses leading to qualifications in a wide range of trade, paraprofessional, and professional occupations. TAFE is also largely responsible for providing most of the coursework required of apprentices and trainees. While ongoing reforms to TAFE include efforts to link firms more closely to the training system, Australian employers have a long history of involvement in training through a well-established apprenticeship system and through a newer, smaller Australian traineeship system established in the mid-1980s. About a quarter of Australian young people are apprentices or trainees; for many years apprenticeships were the dominant form of further training for Australian males who did not complete high school. Firms pay apprentices an age-determined proportion of the relevant tradesperson's full-time earnings, but are compensated by the government for the value of apprentices' time spent in TAFE classes. The payment for trainees is similar, though less generous. Part of the training reform agenda involves strengthening TAFE institutions' ties to local industries. Individual institutions are working with local employers to develop training courses and articulation agreements that link
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy firm-based on-the-job training with accredited TAFE courses. Federal matching grants encourage TAFE institutions to obtain industry contributions for the purchase of equipment. Industry is also involved in negotiations concerning curriculum revisions, the upgrading of credentials, and the development of national, competency-based standards for initial and subsequent vocational training (see below). The federal government's ability to promote increasing industry involvement in training should be enhanced by recent changes in the governance structure of TAFE, which was historically funded and controlled by state and territorial governments. In 1992, after failing in a bid to take control of TAFE, the commonwealth (federal) government announced a more truly federal model under which a Council of Ministers and a new body—the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA)—will take control of the TAFE system. ANTA will be fully responsible for setting national goals, objectives, and priorities for vocational education and training and, beginning in 1994, will receive all commonwealth funding for TAFE as well as at least some of the state funding. On the basis of principles determined by the Ministerial Council, ANTA will then remit funding to the state training agencies. Britain Over the last decade, Britain, too, has actively sought greater employer participation in training its young people, the majority of whom still leave school at age 16. Whereas Australia is trying to engage firms more actively in determining policies for its schools, Britain is attempting to shift more training to the workplace. It created a coordinating mechanism, Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs), that invited firms to participate more in setting policy. These efforts have enjoyed only limited success. Reform efforts at the postcompulsory level are built on changes made in compulsory schooling (which lasts until age 16). The British government has encouraged business interest in compulsory schooling by recommending that employers constitute at least 50 percent of the local boards of governors that set policies for individual schools. It has also encouraged the introduction of employment-related education into school teaching through "Technical Vocational Education Initiatives" and through the national curriculum developed in the 1980s. Finally, city technology colleges (which, contrary to their name, are seen as secondary rather than postsecondary institutions) have been created under the sponsorship of businesses, with some government funding. At the postcompulsory level, school-based training takes place primarily in secondary programs for 16- to 18-year-olds and in local colleges of further education. In the secondary programs, which traditionally were
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy highly academic, new courses and new kinds of certification exams with a more vocational bent have been introduced. In addition, it is now required that students have 2 weeks of work experience before leaving school. The national government has also proposed that the further education colleges should become autonomous institutions outside of local authority control with governing bodies that reflect local business interests. Young people in Britain who do not attend university have historically moved directly into the labor market from compulsory schooling, with no formal training: joining a firm at age 16 or 17 was traditionally the route to many well-paid careers (Vickers, 1991:39). Once employed, individuals have had little incentive to invest in training, and the training that firms have provided tends to be very job-specific, in part because wage differentials associated with skills are lower in Britain than in other European countries. The resulting low levels of training have been of concern to public officials, employers, and employees. For the moment, government policy is focused on 16- to 18-year-olds and on the unemployed. As in Australia, rising youth unemployment and underemployment in the early 1980s led to training reforms. In Britain, however, training was often controlled by employers rather than by recognized schools and colleges; the changes were marked by disappointing levels of employer involvement and by quality problems (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1990b; Vickers, 1991). The current Youth Training (YT) program was established in 1990 as an outgrowth of the Youth Training Scheme introduced in 1983. YT provides training and employment opportunities for unemployed young people by encouraging employers to hire and train them for 2 years. The Youth Training Scheme, which initially provided only 1 year's employment, was criticized as being too short, having no clear definition of the training component, and no standardization of the qualification obtained, thus rendering qualifications incomparable and often meaningless. Furthermore, it appeared that firms were taking advantage of the significantly cheaper labor under the program (trainee wages were noticeably lower than those for regular employees or those for apprentices employed before the apprenticeship system collapsed in the economic distress of the early 1980s) to replace jobs that would otherwise have existed. Under YT, local business-controlled Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) are primarily responsible for regulating the program, thus permitting flexibility in local arrangements; employers are expected to bear more of the costs; and government control and funding is linked less to inputs than to training outputs, which will be measured by new National Vocational Qualifications (see below). Since 1988 Britain has moved toward putting much of the responsibility for developing training policy into the hands of newly formed TECs. These are private companies, based on American Private Industry Councils,
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy with staff from the government training agency and a board of directors of which two-thirds come from business. TECs are responsible for administering public training programs (such as YT and others) but they are also supposed to promote wider efforts, such as providing help with training to small firms, increasing the involvement of employers with education, and coordinating training policies and finding methods of funding training that will overcome the reluctance of employers to train workers who may then be hired away. Their success will depend on the time and energy devoted by the board of directors, their willingness to help develop a cohesive national strategy rather than pursuing only local goals, and their ability to raise the private funding that will be needed to support efforts (beyond just program administration) to improve the scope and quality of training. Skills Improvement Training As in the United States, information on training programs for the current work force, especially skills improvement training for workers that is largely supplied by firms, is not as readily available as information on the preparation of young people for work. The difficulties of comparing direct and indirect training costs and of measuring informal versus formal training make it hard to substantiate the widespread belief that employers in many other countries are more committed to improving the skills of their workers than those in the United States. However, we did find some reasons that this might be so, as well as evidence of government efforts to encourage if not require firms to engage in training. The distinct cultural, historical, and institutional factors that underlie employers' commitment to qualifying training in Germany and Japan can also help explain why employers might be more willing to undertake skills improvement training. In Germany, the so-called tripartite structure of employers, unions, and government that helps determine national training strategy also helps employers avoid the loss of trained workers to other firms. Local employer associations (called chambers, with similarities to U.S. chambers of commerce), to which every firm must belong, use moral suasion and social pressure to minimize the ''poaching'' of trained workers (Lynch, 1993:20). Moreover, every German firm with five or more employees is required to have a "works council" to participate in major personnel decisions, which gives workers a voice in deciding the firm's training policies (Kochan and Osterman, 1991:35; Rogers and Streeck, 1993). In Japan, trained workers do not readily switch firms because the wage gains to quitters are low. Historically, there have also been high social costs paid by firms who lure away other firms' trained employees (Lynch, 1993:6). The tradition of lifetime employment in large firms further increases the benefit to firms from training, although job mobility may now
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy begin to increase as Japanese companies struggle with new and unfamiliar economic difficulties. Finally, Japanese firms, especially large ones, have been enormously successful at integrating training into their production processes—through such practices as on-the-job rotation of workers, team-building and quality circles, and the use of front-line supervisors as trainers—so that training reaches workers as part of what they routinely do.4 The German and Japanese governments also explicitly encourage training of the current work force. Germany levies a 4 percent payroll tax—half charged to the employer, half to the employee—to raise funds for the Federal Employment Institute. Although the bulk of these funds goes to unemployed workers, about 15 percent is provided directly to workers for postapprenticeship training, training in new technologies, or retraining. Some German states require firms to give employees 1 or 2 weeks per year of paid training leave to attend outside seminars (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990:94). In Japan, where the government has played a much smaller role in training policy, there are public subsidies for in-house training, especially for smaller firms (Lynch, 1993:22), as well as subsidies for firms that train older workers (those aged 45 and over) (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990:95). As part of its broader training reforms, Australia has also taken steps to promote more systematic and substantial industry investments in on-the-job training. The commonwealth introduced the Training Guarantee Scheme in 1990, requiring all firms whose gross wage outlays exceed A$200,000 per year to make training investments: initially, 1.0 percent of gross wages and rising within several years to 1.5 percent. Firms are also expected to assess their own training obligations and liabilities; to police this, the Australian Tax Office conducts compliance audits. Training programs provided by firms must aim to teach employment-related skills and enhance firm productivity. Employers must identify the skills to be taught, the means by which they will be taught, and the method of assessing productivity increases. One side benefit of the Training Guarantee Scheme is that much better information will become available on what is now a poorly documented, but apparently extensive, system of employer-sponsored training in Australia. British firms are widely criticized for their low levels of investment in upgrading the skills of the existing work force. Part of the charge to the TECs is to find ways to overcome the traditional reluctance of British employers to train their employees. NATIONAL STANDARDS AND SKILLS CERTIFICATION Australia, Britain, Germany, and Japan have national systems that set standards for work-related skills, or certify for those skills, or both, espe#
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy cially for qualifying training. Some countries are under pressure to standardize so-called further training (what we call skills improvement training in this report) for the current work force as well. The transition from training to work in Germany and Japan is accompanied by national certifications and national examinations. In both Australia and Britain, governments have recognized that in order to strengthen their training systems they need to establish vocational standards and then to assist in the development of competency-based training programs. Nationally recognized skills certification is thought to be an important part of successful apprenticeship programs because it provides people with an incentive to participate and to accept lower wages while in training. Employers are more willing to provide general as well as firm-specific training if they are paying apprentices less than regular workers (Lynch, 1993:31). In Germany, apprenticeship curricula, examinations, and certifications are set at the national level by committees that represent government, employers, and workers. Firms that would employ apprentices have to be approved by local chambers of commerce; internal instructors must be trained and certified through the chambers. To achieve journeyman status, an apprentice must pass national examinations that include written, oral, and practical tests; the tests are administered by committees composed of employers, workers, and vocational instructors (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1990b:38-39). National examinations also determine who can progress from journeyman to master. Training standards are high, and the assessment standards that have evolved over the years are viewed as reliable (Lynch, 1993:17). Japan, with its greater reliance on on-the-job training and with its tradition of low labor mobility, has less need of national standards and certifications. Instead, many firms have developed internal certification procedures. In an effort to raise the status of blue-collar workers by giving public recognition to the skill levels they had achieved, the Ministry of Labor in 1959 created a national testing system that now covers 130 occupations. In firms, however, ongoing informal evaluations by supervisors continue to carry more weight than formal qualifications (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990:91). Australia's recent training reforms included a massive overhaul of the country's credentialing system. The need for such an overhaul stemmed in part from Australia's unique system of industrial relations, which involves a centralized wage-fixing system that establishes "awards" for almost all occupations in both the industrial and the service sectors of the economy. Awards are occupationally specific rulings arrived at through formal tripartite negotiations (government, employer, worker) that stipulate wages and
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy working conditions. Within the industrial awards system, workers' wage entitlements and job definitions depend on their possessing the appropriate certificates, diplomas, or degrees. (Rapid changes in production methods in Australian industry can be impeded by the rigidity of the occupational classifications embedded in the wage awards, so in 1987 the commonwealth committed itself to a major program of industrial reform that focused specifically on award restructuring.) In the metal industry, for example, the overhaul resulted in a change from 360 specific job classifications to 14 levels of competency. Following the change in credentialing came reform of the training system and of the traditional certification system, which had been regulated by a variety of federal and state-based authorities. Reforms of training standards and certifications are still in process and will take years. Under the leadership of a National Training Board established in 1990, Australia is attempting to develop a competency-based training approach under which a broad range of providers (firm-based and private institutions as well as schools) can have their training programs certified. The National Training Board has decided to establish an Australian Standards Framework of eight competency levels, which will serve as reference points for the development and recognition of competency standards. The implementation of this idea is a major undertaking that will involve analyzing particular jobs to characterize the skills involved, conduct performance-based assessments of worker and trainee skills, and develop new ways of recording achievements that are more flexible and cumulative than the conventional vocational certificates and diplomas. There appears to be strong support among employers and unions for a competency-based training system and for the registration of a broader range of training providers. Nevertheless, a number of problems have arisen as firms and the TAFE colleges pursue this approach. For example, it is proving difficult to define competencies in nontechnical tasks, and some employers doubt whether standards can be both national and applicable to particular enterprises. There is a concern that the existing formal education and training system will insulate itself from the new approaches and that industry-responsive approaches will only emerge at the margins. Australia's credential reforms have a long way to go, and a sure and steady transition toward a national system of competency standards is not taken for granted (National Board of Employment, Education and Training, 1991). Britain established its National Council for Vocational Qualifications in 1986 to rationalize and reform the vocational certification system and bring some cohesion to a plethora of training options. The council has developed a national framework of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) involving five levels of competence in occupations and professions: the goal is to place all the existing vocational certifications into this framework. The need for such a framework and the challenge in creating it are indicated by
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy the fact that more than 2 million vocational certifications are awarded each year by more than 300 bodies. Within the last several years, the council has also introduced a hybrid form of certification called General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs), designed to bridge the NVQs and the traditional A-level exams that are required for university entrance. GNVQs, unlike NVQs, do not imply that individuals are prepared to perform in a specific occupation. Rather, they indicate achievement of a foundation of general skills, knowledge, and understanding that underpin a range of occupations. GNVQs are designed for those pursuing full-time education with limited access to the workplace. They are calibrated to both A-level and NVQ scores and are designed to be an alternative to the academically oriented A-level exams as a pathway to higher education (National Council for Vocational Qualifications, 1993). As in Australia, the effort to develop a national credentialing system in Britain has drawn criticism. Though the National Council for Vocational Qualifications appears to offer more coordination than existed in its absence, it does not reduce the number of organizations entitled to certify vocational skills, but rather expands it, adding employers and private training agencies to the existing mix of further education colleges and other examining bodies. The NVQs have been attacked for being very low-level and for allowing firms to accredit their own trainees without outside assessment for quality control. This has undermined public confidence in them (Vickers, 1991:45-6). PATHWAYS FROM SCHOOL TO WORK Other nations often offer their young people better delineated, more certain pathways from school to work than are available in the United States. As a result, young people (especially men) seeking permanent entry into the labor force accomplish this goal at an earlier age and with fewer interruptions than do Americans. Americans travel a distinctly different path from education to work than people in major European countries and Japan. In American compulsory education, the academic track dominates, and many young people who do not attend or complete college emerge from school without any clear preparation for work. The postcompulsory period for American youth is characterized by high initial participation rates in postsecondary training, but also high dropout rates, frequent switches between periods of schooling and work, deferred entry to full-time, career-oriented employment, frequent job switches, and relatively low levels of firm-provided training once youths are on the job (Haggstrom et al., 1991). Research has shown that job mobility, especially in the early years of work, is a key way in which young
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy American men increase their wages and move toward long-term stable employment (Topel and Ward, 1992). Nevertheless, high labor market "inactivity rates" (the percentage of the population that is not employed, serving in the military, or enrolled in school) and the apparent underemployment of many workers with jobs in the years immediately following high school exacerbate the problems and dangers facing some adolescents. A recent National Research Council report (1993:127) on at-risk youths5 notes that "many high school graduates flounder in the labor market, either jobless or obtaining jobs with low wages and little opportunity for advancement" and observes that these difficulties are most pronounced for adolescents who are already at risk because of their status as minorities or the children of low-income families. Both the German dual system and the Japanese school-based system with strong links to employers offer teenagers a more direct and certain route into employment. Preliminary analyses of longitudinal data on the school-to-work transition commissioned by the committee suggest that these systems and others like them (such as apprenticeships in Australia) reduce the amount of "milling around" by young people. These analyses indicate, for example, that those who have been apprentices in Germany and Australia switch labor market status comparatively infrequently. That is, they less often change their status from employed to unemployed, employed to student, student to employed, unemployed to student, in-the-labor-force to out-of-the-labor force, etc. Apprenticeship has also proven to be an effective means for youths to gain steady employment after their training period even (as in Australia) when the youth labor market as a whole has experienced significant dislocation and unemployment.6 Comparative labor market stability for young adults as it has historically been accomplished in Germany and Japan comes at a price, however. By American standards, young people and their parents frequently make very early decisions about career choices. In Japan, examinations taken at the end of the equivalent of the U.S. 9th grade determine whether a student will enroll in an academic or vocational high school, which in turn is strongly determinative of whether that youth will enter the work force right after high school or pursue additional education. German children take exams at the end of primary school (about age 10) that track them into one of three types of secondary schools. Which kind of secondary school a German attends generally determines what career path he or she will follow.7 Exam systems that track children into apprenticeship or other vocational pathways can limit their ability to pursue higher education or to switch fields of study. Many European countries, including Germany, have addressed this problem in recent years by opening up their exam systems and allowing each student more options. The advantages from more structured pathways sometimes accrue dis
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy proportionately to young men. Participation in apprenticeship in many countries is dominated by males. In Australia, Britain (before the Youth Training Scheme replaced the apprenticeship system), and Germany, fewer women than men go through apprenticeships. Young women who do become apprentices often find themselves preparing for lower paying occupations and experiencing more subsequent underemployment than men who became apprentices. In fact, gender differences in pathways to work are frequently found in foreign training systems, not just because of tracking but also because of social mores. In Japan, for example, 90 percent of students in private 2-year colleges are female, while 87 percent of the students in technical colleges are male. The differences reflect the lower priority Japanese parents have traditionally placed on the education of their daughters and their preference for keeping them at home: junior colleges offer shorter term programs and are local in nature. Moreover, Japanese companies have historically expected women to work only until they married and have not given them responsible, demanding jobs. They see junior college graduates as more convenient than graduates of longer programs because they will put in more years of work before leaving for marriage, and they will cost less in wages. CONCLUSION As stated at the beginning of this chapter, the committee did not undertake a thorough or systematic evaluation of international training practices. We did, however, discover a good deal of information about how other countries that face many of the same issues now being raised in the United States have developed a diverse array of interesting policies and practices. More than that, we take away from our review an impression that other countries are increasingly thinking about training policy in a deliberate, systematic way. The movement in this direction is clearest in Australia and Britain, which historically have been characterized by fragmented, uncoordinated approaches. It is also noteworthy that strategic planning to improve training is not limited to individual countries, but can also be found in multinational entities like the evolving European Community (Glitter, 1992). It is this trend toward active and coordinated national and multinational training strategies, more than the particulars of the practices in individual countries, that impresses us most from our examination of training in an international perspective. NOTES 1. Unless otherwise cited, information in this chapter is from papers prepared for the committee to describe the institutions, policies, and pathways from school to work in Australia
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Preparing for the Workplace: Charting a Course for Federal Postsecondary Training Policy (Vickers, 1992; Gregory, 1992), Britain (Connolly, 1992a,b), Germany (Rauberger, 1992a,b), and Japan (Rosenbaum and Kariya, 1992a,b; see also Lane, 1992a,b). 2. Lynch (1993:4) notes that an emerging consensus about the relatively poor skills of American workers "is based on limited direct empirical evidence of how skills and skill preparation vary from country to country." This is particularly true of private-sector training, which is a significant part of qualifying training in some countries and is the major source of skills improvement training in most countries. The growing interest in how training is provided overseas and in the effectiveness of foreign training policies is spurring research efforts on these important issues. Some potentially important analyses (e.g., Lynch, 1994) were not available for the committee to consider; moreover, we believe a careful comparative evaluation would be a study unto itself. 3. Our discussion of training policies in Britain refers to England and Wales; Scotland has a somewhat different system, which we did not examine. 4. High levels of training may not be as characteristic of the large numbers of small Japanese firms that perform service work and subcontract with large firms. Large Japanese corporations do provide training assistance to their first-tier suppliers, and smaller firms sometimes benefit from this assistance as well (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, 1990:90). 5. At-risk youths are defined as "adolescents who engage in high-risk behaviors--behaviors that compromise their health, endanger their lives, and limit their chances to achieve successful adult lives" (National Research Council, 1993:1). 6. In Australia, it will be interesting to see if this advantage carries over to other parts of the training arena as the commonwealth merges its four traditional pathways into work (apprenticeships, traineeships, TAFE courses, and entry-level training provided by firms) into a single system that will involve four vocational certificates, one for each level of training achieved. This so-called Australian Vocational Certificate training system will equate with Australian Standards Framework level 1 to 4. 7. Hauptschule involves 5-6 years of secondary schooling and leads primarily to blue-collar apprenticeships. Realschule offers 6 years of schooling aimed at training for higher-level but nonacademic occupations; graduates usually enter white-collar apprenticeships or gain admission to technical schools. Graduates of gymnasium are eligible, after they complete 9 years of secondary school, for university admission if they pass a qualifying examination.
Representative terms from entire chapter: