Indigenous School-to-Work Programs: Lessons From Cincinnati's Co-op Education

J. C. Villeneuve, W. N. Grubb

Employers' attitudes towards education tend to range from indifference to hostility. Yet co-op programs, where students spend either alternate semesters or partial days throughout the school year at various job placements, have flourished in Cincinnati for decades. Villeneuve and Grubb explore in anecdotal style the special conditions that have contributed to Cincinnati's enduring and widespread cooperative education, and examine the implications for other communities developing school-to-work programs. They speculate that a peculiarly American form of work-based learning has developed in Cincinnati. This form is not dependent upon formal regulations, such as skill standards, but instead depends on (1) the employers' belief that co-op education is worthwhile, (2) frequent face-to-face discussions between employers and school placement coordinators, and (3) the commitment of both schools and employers to provide each other with high-quality students and placements. Under these conditions, a unique form of school-to-work program has evolved in Cincinnati-and can develop elsewhere.

MDS-702 / June 1996

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