School-to-Work Policy Insights from Recent International Developments

D. Stern, T. Bailey, D. Merritt

Traditional vocational and academic education does not provide the best preparation for the emerging knowledge-based economy. This report, prepared for the U.S. Congress by NCRVE director David Stern, describes how many industrialized countries are restructuring education to prepare students better for both higher education and careers. Recent efforts converge on four principles: (1) integration of vocational and academic education, (2) standards that relate occupational and educational performance, (3) work-based learning for all students, (4) shared governance between educators and employers. Stern analyzes reforms based on these principles in Germany, Japan, Australia, Denmark, and other countries. The reforms taking shape in some American schools and communities--combining academic and vocational curriculum with work-based learning and high standards for all students--appear likely to provide the best preparation for young people entering an economy where learning and work are increasingly intertwined. The fact that most industrialized countries are undertaking similar changes suggests the reasons for the changes are strong and pervasive. This paper's international perspective on school-to-work will interest policymakers and practitioners alike.

MDS-950 / December 1996

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