An Overview of Workforce Education Programs in The U. S
An Overview of Workforce Education Programs in The U.S.
A Monograph Prepared by Students and Instructor in EVT 7267 Vocational-Technical Education Program Planning and Evaluation
University of South Florida
Department of Leadership Development
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Role of Work In Contemporary Society 3
Chapter 2 The United States Economy: Jobs vs. Workers 16
Chapter 3 Special Population Workforce Education Considerations 29
Daryla R. Bungo
Chapter 4 Career and Work Awareness in Elementary Education 37
Diane W. Culpepper
Chapter 5 Workforce Education in the Middle Grades 52
Chapter 6 Workforce Education At The High School Level 61
Chapter 7 Career Preparation at The Post-Secondary Level 96
Chapter 8 Workforce Education In Alternative Settings 109
The Role of Work In Contemporary Society
Before exploring trends in the U.S. job market and examining programs in schools aimed at career development and preparation, we first need to examine the concept of work itself. This chapter will explore the meaning of work in contemporary society and examine how society’s concepts of work have influenced workforce education in the U.S. The linkages between community, family and the development of youth within this contemporary society will also be explored. The meaning of work will be analyzed through a historical context; what work has become over time including the family and community as both relate to youth development in contemporary society.
The Puritan Work Ethic In Historical Perspective
The Puritan Work Ethic might have been just an ideal that never really existed. The meaning of work in contemporary society must be framed in the correct perspective. The first half of this chapter will take a brief historical look at the meaning of work in North American culture. The second half will focus on work education, community, and family involvement in youth development from several view points.
From the very first colonial settlement, American labor has been recruited from abroad, from Great Britain, the European Continent, Africa, and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from Asia and Latin America. The colonial era was the day of the handcraftsman and the fieldhand. To protect and advance their economic well being, white workers-both master and apprentice, mechanic, and common laborer-formed temporary associations (Morris, 1976, p.1).
American society at the time of the Revolution was based upon farming, fishing, maritime activities, and a sprinkling of small industries. Even as late as the last decade of the 1700’s America was a nation of farmers. The first census (1790) revealed that only 202,000 persons out of a population of 3,929,000 lived in towns of 2,500 or more persons. Recruitment of labor force was essential to satisfy the needs of farmers and to a lesser degree of the maritime trades, also the furnace and workshop industries and the highly skilled crafts (Morris, 1976, p.8).
England was convinced that the homeland was overpopulated and the government encouraged the emigration to America of the unemployed poor and “vagrant” class and also permitted skilled workers to go to the colonies. Free labor remained in short supply throughout the colonial period. As a solution, the English settlers innovated several forms of bound labor for white Europeans and adopted a long established coercive labor system for Black Africans. One form of bound labor, indentured servitude, included all persons bound to labor for periods of years as determined either by a written agreement or by the custom of the respective colony. The bulk of indentured servants comprised contract labor (Morris, 1976, p.11).
The laws of the colonies added another source to meet the large demand for labor. Persons committing larceny, a felony punishable by death in the mother country, were customarily sentenced in colonial courts to corporal punishment and multiple restitution. If unable to make restitution, the prisoner was normally bound out to service by the Court. A second substantial addition to the labor market came from the practice of the courts, which penalized absentee or runaway servants by requiring them to serve as many as ten days free labor for every day's unauthorized leave (Morris, 1976, p.13).
The debtor was an important source of bound labor in the American colonies. Unlike England, the colonies considered imprisonment a waste of labor. Laws were enacted, releasing the debtor from prison to serve the creditor for a period of time sufficient to satisfy the debt (Morris, 1976, p.14).
The apprenticeship program inherited from England, had the twofold objective of supplying the labor market and providing training in a trade. The apprenticing, or binding out, could be "voluntary", by consent of parents or guardians, or involuntary, where local officials did the binding out. According to the terms of apprenticeship, the master was obliged to teach the "mysteries" of the trade to the apprentice, who promised not to reveal the master's trade secrets. The common requirement of reading, writing, and ciphering required the master to provide the apprentice with schooling for at least the first three years. Under the emerging ethos of commercialism, masters preferred to send their apprentices to evening schools to get a general education rather than assume that burden themselves (Morris, 1976, p.p.14-15).
Bound laborers, White or Black, received no wages. Free laborers operated under a system of wage payments as today. An alternative to wage payments was a piece-wage system. Wage earners contracted for employment seasonally or annually. From the beginning, labor was a seller's market. All contemporary authorities agree on the relatively high wages prevailing in the colonies (Morris, 1976, p.17).
The definition of work, as the literature indicates, is subjective within the historical evolution and only some major trends can be mentioned and confined to historical developments in Western countries (Keyser, Quate, Wiepert, & Quintanilla, 1988, p.4).
In ancient Greece the findings discredited the notion of everyday work--especially physical work--which was perceived as a despicable chore mainly of slaves. Socially accepted were only work activities undertaken for the sake of themselves, provided they produce some lasting creation as a symbol of human achievement (Keyser, et al, 1988, p.4)
The Old Testament (Genesis 3:17-19), considers work as hardship imposed by God as a punishment for man's original sin. The redeeming value of work is only of secondary order through sharing the fruits of work with people in poverty and distress. It is through this instrumental characteristic of working that it receives a positive facet in that it contributes to induce God's blessing and benevolence (Keyser, et al, 1984, p.5)
The fundamental retributional character of work is upheld also in Christian traditions where work is conceived as a bonung arduum--a "difficult good" in Thomas Aquinas' teachings because of the challenge to transform and subjugate nature and thus enable man's self-realization according to God's image (Genesis 1:26-27). St. Benedict's order accepted work as a moral, that is an internalized obligation as opposed to an externally induced necessity. This ascetic view is secularized in the guilds of the Middle Ages where work is seen as a practical form of religious service. The Reformation emphasized work as an obligation of duty of particular value owing to its contribution to God's creation. Working was to build God's kingdom; working was good, hard working was even better (Drenth, 1983, p. 9, Keyser, et al., 1984, p.5).
The emergence of manufacturing industries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries imposed new constructs and demands on the proletarian working classes because of the need to organize on higher levels. External coercion, previously sufficient for control, needed to be replaced increasingly by internalized secondary virtues such as subordination, discipline, reliability, punctuality, and loyalty. The secularization of traditional work gets a new boost with the growth of organized labor which supports a new self-image of working man: work as a means to fulfill social and expressive needs and thus contributing to the formation of a new identity (Keyser, et al, 1984, p.5). This subjective interpretation redefinition of work is an unavoidable necessity into a source of positive self-esteem which enables workers to rekindle intrinsic work motivations even under poor working conditions according to Kearn and Schuman (1982).
Definitions and Concepts
As suggested earlier, defining work is a very difficult task because the term has been subjected to many interpretations. The starting point for understanding work is to understand how "work" is defined (Ransome, 1996, p.15). In defining work we consider the term both in terms of its linguistic origins, and in terms of how it has been used to distinguish between various categories of activities. Reference to the Oxford English Dictionary suggests the following definition of "work":
Something to be done, or something to do; occupation, business, task, function. Action involving effort or exertion directed to a definite end, especially as meanings or earning a livelihood, regular occupation or employment. (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd Edition pp. 2448-9).
Instantly, certain criteria of the definition can be distinguished. (1) This definition of work encompasses a number of alternative terms used to denote the performance of an activity. (2) This activity is associated with the notion of payment or income. (3) The basic assumption is made that this performance requires the discharge of physical and/or mental energy. (4) There is the expectation that work is some way useful or expedient (Ransome, 1996, pp.16-17).
Taking the four elements action, payment, exertion, and expedience, it will be useful to disentangle the various shades of meaning between 'work' and the related terms 'labor,' 'craft', 'housework', and 'job' and 'occupation' which are commonly used to denote working activity. Raymond Williams makes the argument that "work is the modern English form of the noun WE ORC (Old English) and the verb WYRCAN, (Old English), as our most general word for doing something and for something done (Williams, 1976, pp.281-1). Work in this general sense can be distinguished from the term 'labor', which implies arduousness or 'toil' in the literal sense of doing something laborious: "As a verb, labor had a common sense of ploughing or working the land, but was also extended to other kinds of manual work and to any kind of difficult effort. A laborer was primarily a manual worker." The notion of 'toil' or painful work derives from the Greek terms ponos, meaning pain, toil, trouble or distress, and eris meaning strife. Andre Gorz argues, the notion of labor-as-toil can be associated with the "need for man to produce his means of subsistence 'by the sweat of his brow.'" Thus labor can be defined as "work carried out in order to ensure survival." Gorz also makes the distinction between the realm of necessary activity and the activities of craftworkers:
Until the eighteenth century the term "labour" referred to the toil of serfs and day-laboures who produced consumer goods or services necessary for life which had to be recommenced day after day without ever producing any lasting results. Craftworkers ...did not 'labour' they produced "works," possibly using their "work" the "labour" of unskilled workers whose job it was to do menial tasks. Only day labourers were paid for their "labour". Craftworkers were paid for their "works" (Ransome, 1996, p.17).
In modern society, this notion of endlessly repeated labor or toil can be associated with domestic or reproductive chores understood as activities which individuals undertake in order to complete tasks of which they, or their families, are the sole beneficiaries (Ransome, 1996, p.18).
Firth argues that 'work' denotes the 'expenditure of energy,' but assumes that this expenditure does not give complete satisfaction itself--as recreation may be thought to do--but is the pursuit of some further end! Thus, one may speak of the satisfactions to be gained from work, but not so easily of satisfactions to be gained from labor (Firth, 1979, pp.178-9). A further important extension of the term labor emerged as part of the vocabulary of political economy during the nineteenth century, to encompass a more abstract or general category of socially necessary labor. Williams suggests:
Where labour in its most general sense, had meant all productive work, it now came to mean that element of production which combination with capital and materials produced commodities. (Ransome, 1996, p.18, Williams, 1976, p.146).
The emergence of the more recent terms 'job', 'occupation', 'employment', became part of the dialog. The former originally denoted a particular or specific piece of work in the sense of doing a 'job of work'. As Williams pointed out, the term has come to subsume other terms related to former employment such as situation, position, post, and appointment. What has happened is that a word formerly specifically reserved to limited and occasional employment (and surviving in this sense, as a price for the job...) has become the common word for regular and normal employment. The terms 'occupation' and 'employment' can be regarded as alternatives for 'job', denoting formal and regular paid work. Work has come to be defined as wage-work:
Work has not always existed in the way in which it is currently understood. It came into being at the same time as capitalists and proletarians. It means an activity carried out for someone else; in return for a wage; and for a purpose not chosen by the worker according to Gorz (Ransome, 1996, p.20).
The recent expansion of formal service-sector employment to encompass activities previously regarded as personal housework or unpaid domestic labor, clearly illustrates the increasing use of cash-payment criterion for distinguishing work from non-work. These activities may now be seen in terms of formal public employment rather than in terms of informal private-housework. These developments clearly imply that changes in the application of particular criterion, (in this case that being paid in cash for domestic labor results in a renewed recognition of the usefulness and expediency of this type of activity), can result in significant changes in both the perception of the activity itself, and of the status of those who perform it. This suggests that changes in the definition of work can occur without prior changes in the nature and substance of the activity itself; it is not the activity itself which has changed but the perception that its worth and value justify direct payment.
The payment criterion feeds two more characteristics to the concept of work in contemporary society: (1) Since the early eighteenth century, work has become associated with activities which are performed outside the home; work is public rather than private activity. In his analysis of the emergence of capitalist economic systems, Max Weber attaches great importance to this development as constituting a defining characteristic of “modern” or “rational” capitalism. The modern rational organization of the capitalistic enterprise would not have been possible without the separation of business from the household, which completely dominates modern economic life (Weber, 1976, pp.21-2, Ransome, 1996, p.21). (2) Another characteristic of the contemporary definition of work is that within the public sphere, further distinctions are made between formal work in the “official economy” and informal work in the unofficial or “black-market economy.” The formal economy encompasses activities carried out under an agreed contractual arrangement, in a particular time and place, and which are “declared” for the purposes of taxation. The informal economy encompasses activities, which are performed without such arrangements, and are not declared (Ransome, 1996, p. 23).
The meaning of work has historical meaning as well as modern meaning in our contemporary society. The discussion of work in contemporary society must be framed in the correct perspective. This perspective requires an historical overview before we can proceed. The focus will now shift to the meanings of work in today's contemporary society.
Post Industrial Work
Scholars have pointed to the consensual dimensions of the work paradigm, and to the fact that continued participation in the mechanisms of employment in part depends on whether people believe that this participation will provide them with an opportunity to pursue their economic interests. For the majority, these interests can be understood in terms simply of the need to provide themselves and their dependents with the necessities of life. Ransome argues that the present crisis in the concept of work is closely associated with fundamental deficiencies within the concept of work itself. The inability of the contemporary concept of work to respond adequately to changes in the practice of work has highlighted these deficiencies, exposing it to level of scrutiny. Ransome further suggests that these inadequacies have only instigated a crisis in the present concept of work, but are seriously inhibiting the emergence of a reformulated perspective of work; a perspective which could respond more fully to evident and widespread changes in the practice of work (Ransome, 1996, pp.175-76).
The definition of work in contemporary society derives from a number of basic criteria. Work is defined as predominantly public mental and or physical activities, which are seen to be economically expedient, carried out in return for monetary payment. Within capitalism, the criterion of financial payment has become the most often used means of distinguishing between work and non-work activities; for all practical purposes in contemporary capitalist society, work is paid work. It has also been argued that the criteria of the economic definition of work have become dominant, this dominance may not necessarily imply that the criteria upon which it is based are inherently more appropriate or expedient than other criteria. Rather, this dominance relates to the prevailing use of a particular set of terms of reference, which give priority to particular criteria. In broad terms, it can be distinguished between terms of reference, which give priority to systemic requirements, that is, to sustaining a particular historical manifestation of the means of production with the reference focusing on the satisfaction of individual human needs. It is also suggested that practical application or operationalization of criteria of work depends upon the active shared consent of the population. For a particular criterion to be effective, people have to be willing to abide by it and to live with its consequences. This consent is expressed both in practical terms--it governs our day-to-day working activity--and in conceptual terms in as much as we assume that other people are acting in a similar way for similar reasons. Criteria of work then, are social phenomena, which derive their usefulness through practical application in a shared social context (Ransome, 1996, pp. 176-77).
If we begin with the (universal) principle that work is simply a manifestation of the basic human need for expression through action, it can be argued that key aspects of the contemporary criteria of work are arbitrary, because they impose an artificial distinction between one type of activity and another. According to economic terms of reference, activities which are described as work tend to be seen as distinct and separate from general human activity. This approach fragments and separates one category of activity from another, purely on the basis of whether or not these activities are public, expedient, and financially rewarded. Work-as-paid work is therefore an aspect of work in the economic sense, and work as a whole is an aspect of activity in general.
This fragmentation has several important consequences for society: (1) The intrinsic aspects of activity tend to be subjugated by the extrinsic, resulting in a profound devaluation of the notion of human agency itself. It is argued by some scholars because the intrinsic qualities of work are devalued, individuals are coerced by a complex mechanism of “incentive regulators” (understood in terms of money, security, prestige and/or power attached to the various functions), and prescriptive regulators (which force individuals, on pain of certain penalties) to adopt functional forms of conduct, which only offer compensations outside work for the constraints, frustrations and suffering inherent in functional labor it seeks. (2) Because of the priority given to extrinsic utility and the payment criterion, all activities tend to be evaluated in terms of the criterion of extrinsic evaluation. The perceived value and worth of economic expediency becomes the dominant means of assessing the worth and value of all activities irrespective of whether those activities are categorized as work (Ransome, 1996, pp.178-79).
To generalize, advanced countries now manage agriculture with less than one-tenth of the post-second world war labor requirements or about three to five percent of the workforce. Manufacturing employment has been similarly downsized to less than half that of 30 years ago, despite expansion of output. The importance is placed on the compensating effect of the move to services, which in some economies now absorb up to 75 percent of workers. The services sector is said to be robust. The star performers may be health services, where explosive expansion is taking place. In the United States this sector now averages about eight percent of total employment. Evidence suggests that between 1987 and 1991, corporations are estimated to have shed 2.4 million jobs, whereas enterprises employing fewer than 20 workers picked up 4.4 million. Most of the increases are said to have been in low-paying industries such as services and retailing (Kelly, 2000, pp.5-32).
Employers’ demands for employees’ time on the job show no clear overall trends. In North America, skilled technical workers and those described by Robert Reich as "symbolic analysts" have been working longer than in earlier years and are considered to be under serious pressure. Pleas to expand elite education are partly based on the proposition that suitable recruits are necessary to spread the load (Kelly, 2000, pp.5-32).
The average working week in the United States and other advanced countries is now about half as long as it was before the twentieth century. In all "advanced" societies, concepts such as the family wage and the 40-hour week, which once seemed to be engraved in stone, have been swept unceremoniously away. In the U.S. it is estimated that a working woman with a family may expect a total workload of not less than 80 hours weekly. Workers’ psychological pressures are mounting. It is suggested that in 1996, 46 percent of workers in large American firms feared being laid off. This was twice the 1991 level--despite five years of expansion and a significantly lower unemployment rate. The psychological problems are that workers in this situation feel "their lives are buffeted by forces over which they have virtually no control" (Kelly, 2000, pp.5-32).
The labor force everywhere is exposed to work fatigue that is deeper than and different from physical or nervous exhaustion. Notions of work as fulfillment, as the expansion of individuality, as an enjoyable alternative to idleness, are retreating before the remorseless instrumentalism of global competition and rationalist ideology. Hyper-competition exacts hyper-work and may bring hyper-profits, but the price cannot be ignored. Inferior performance through stress is the least of the hazards involved; disillusionment and alienation are more fundamental, and there may be no cure. The reorganization of work in the late twentieth century capitalist societies is forcing an increasingly large proportion of people to seek the means for their survival through types of disorganized, insecure, risky, casualized, and poor work. Even if the work available to those people may be frequently or mostly performed under pressure, they are essentially under committed. "…The realities of social exclusion, psychological deprivation, and economic waste are pretty much swept under the carpet." Alan Greenspan has suggested that such realities could become a major threat. Even more than those who are overworked, the under worked have reason for alienation.” (Kelly, 2000, pp.5-32).
According to Kinchloe the modernist mind-set that separates the humanistic and the economic realms embraces a profit-maximizing framework, which excludes social values from the conversation about work. Classical laissez-faire economics theory adopts this framework as it excludes conceptions of humans as meaning makers, as beings who can substitute regressive policies with life affirming ones. The new factory work arrangements undermined creativity, self-expression, connection with the completed product and satisfaction with accomplishment, work grew to become a hated activity-- work as “toil and trouble”. Workers were reduced to "putting in time" and labor turnover increased so much that by the early twentieth century rates of many industries often exceeded the total number of employees. In the industrial workplace, management's control has been maintained by portraying the error and inadequacy of the rank and file. In recent debates about falling American productivity, business and industry leaders along with their rightwing allies have identified worker incompetence as the central problem (Kinchloe, 1999, pp.6-7). Viewing workers as human fragments, as “homo economicus”, as incompetent production units, managers framed workers as the objects of social engineering and rationalist planning (Kinchloe, 1999, p.7).
The social pathology of worker degradation in modernist culture finds expression at a variety of human levels. The health problems of low status workers do not receive as much concern as those of managers and professionals. Kinchloe suggests another pathology involves the cultivation of self-hatred among low status workers. According to Kinchloe the future holds little promise if economists, labor union leaders, managers and educators fail to address the fragmentation of regressive modernism. Kinchloe offers five fragmented areas in contemporary society that need attention. (1) fragmented social relations--the separation of managers from workers in relation to power, status, and access to knowledge; (2) fragmented work--workers have little input into production decisions; (3) fragmented job skills; (4) fragmented human lives--workers are viewed as producers of products and not as sacred beings intrinsically valued; and (5) fragmented reality--the economic world and the world of nature seen as separated and unrelated. Kinchloe argues that if workers are to be valued--seen as an asset--these issues of fragmentation must be addressed. The workplace must embrace democratic values if work is to be redefined from just putting in time.
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