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Masri, Munther W. 

Vocational Education and the Changing Demand of the World of 
Work. 

1998-03-00 

2 2p . ; Keynote address presented at the UNESCO-UNEVOC 
International Conference, "Vocational Education in the 
Asia-Pacific Region" (Adelaide, Australia, March 25-27, 

1998) . 

Opinion Papers (120) -- Speeches/Meeting Papers (150) 

MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

Adult Education; Educational Finance; Educational Needs; 
Educational Planning; Foreign Countries; Human Capital; 
♦Human Resources; *Job Training; Labor Force Development; 
*Labor Needs; Labor Supply; Needs Assessment; On the Job 
Training; Postsecondary Education; Program Implementation; 
*Role of Education; Secondary Education; *Vocational 
Education 



ABSTRACT 



The role of vocational education and training (VET) in the 
context of the dynamic and changing demands of the world of work is explored 
through a more comprehensive approach to the overall system of human 
resources development (HRD) . HRD is the concern of both educationists and 
economists. To an educationist, HRD should first be human and then 
professional. An economist would emphasize the need for as accurate a 
matching of supply and demand in educational and labor market planning as 
possible. Labor market planners are frequently faced with the dilemma of 
whether to sacrifice some individual aspirations and social ideals to ensure 
the adequacy of labor supply or to sacrifice the fulfillment of some economic 
needs the better to respond to individual claims and social pressures. Three 
main systems exist in practice in VET as a component of HRD frameworks and 
institutions: the school system, the enterprise (on-the-job) system, and the 
integrated (dual) system. One or more such systems might exist in a country. 
Three main criteria for evaluation of VET programs are linked with varying 
degrees to the criteria and changing demands of the world of work: internal, 
economic, and external evaluation. The role of the world of work, represented 
by the various types of enterprises in VET, is explored through four main 
functions: planning, financing, implementation, and identification of 
training needs. (YLB) 



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er|c 



VOCATIONAL EDUCATION 



AND 

THE CHANGING DEMAND OF THE WORLD OF WORK 



Dr. Munther W. Masri 

President, National Center for Human Resources Development 



Jordan 



'fhahtment of education 

EDiyfc Research and improvement 

educational RESOURCES INFORMATION 
i-, L M CENTER (ERIC) 

W;il' S do ^ ment has been reproduced as 
lhe person — 

□ Minor changes have been made to 
improve reproduction quality. 



do^im«it V !? W °\ opinions stated in this 
document do not necessarily represent 
official OERI position or policy 



PERMISSION TO REPR ^UCE AND 
DISSEMINATE THIS MATERIAL HAS 
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TO THE EDUCATIONAL 

INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC) 



Keynote AA^'ess for the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Conference on 
“Vocational Education in the Asia - Pacific Region”, held in Adelaide Institute 
of TAPE - South Australia, 25-27 March 1998. 



Vocational Education and the Changing Demand of the 

World of Work 



I. Introduction 

The role of vocational education in the context of the dynamics and 
changing demand of the world of work can better be explored through a 
more comprehensive approach to the overall system of human resources 
development (HRD). 

Human resources development, which is mainly implemented 
through the formal and non-formal systems of education, is the concern 
of both educationists and economists. This is so because education is 
recognized both as a social service on the one hand, and an investment 
and hence economically feasible activity on the other. The existence of a 
link between education and economic development is mainly the result of 
humanpower needs being translated into educational targets and plans. 

The relation between education and economic development is a 
complex one, because there exists no strict relationship between 
occupations and levels or types of education. Consequently, the ability 
and need to design manpower preparation and development systems 
based rigidly on the needs of employment requirements are questionable. 
The complexity of the relationship between education and economics is 
also due to the fact that education can be both a cause and effect of 
economic development. This applies in particular to vocational education 
and training (VET), whose quality, size, standards and diversification of 
offerings promote economic development on the one hand, and are 
strongly influenced by such development and by work standards on the 
other. Therefore in manpower planning, which requires, among other 
things, the matching of supply and demand, such matching should 
emphasize interdependence, rather than dependence or independence, as a 
basic strategy. 

Figure (1) shows the position of Human Resources Development 
and Utilization Systems in general, and VET in particular, vis-a-vis the 
systems of manpower supply, manpower demand, and the supply-demand 
inerlinkages, within the relevant social, economic and cultural 
framework. 



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Figure 1 : Human Resources Development and Utilization Systems 



The criteria used for the evaluation of educational and HRD 
strategies and systems frequently reveal the differences in the views of 
economists and educationists. Thus the feasibility of a VET system can 
be assessed through the ability to secure employment, level of earnings, 
self and social image, job satisfaction, and the degree of lateral and 
upward mobility on the individual level; and through productivity levels, 
quality standards and national income figures on the national level. It is 
difficult, for example, to justify high investment in a VET scheme that 
tends to accentuate unemployment in certain occupational fields and 
levels and labour shortage in others; or that leads to unplanned and 
harmful migration of manpower from rural to urban areas. On the other 
hand, one should have reservations against VET schemes that tend to 
prepare a skilled rather than an educated labour force, or that do not 
enhance the status of work and inculcate positive attitudes towards 
labour. 

To an educationist, HRD, mainly through formal and non-formal 
education and training, should first be human and then professional, since 
such education and training should do more than provide the learner with 
the skills and knowledge specifically needed for his job, and since 
occupations are more effectively performed by individuals who are 
generally, as well as specifically, prepared. In the field of vocational and 
> technical education, individuals should be prepared to be intelligent users 
of the means of production rather than mere means of production. An 
economist, on the other hand, would emphasize the need for as accurate a 
matching of supply and demand in educational and manpower planning 
as possible, and would in general be sensitive to the 'marketability' of the 
'products' of the education system. Poorly balanced education systems, to 
an economist, are a waste of resources that are usually badly needed 
elsewhere. Vocational and career guidance, from the point of view of 
economists, therefore, is oriented more to the fulfillment of market needs 
and the adjustment of learners' inclinations to such needs, than to the 
discovery of their abilities and inclinations and the realization of their 
potentials and educationally justified ambitions. 

Planners, are in general frequently faced with the dilemma of 
whether to sacrifice some of the individual aspirations and social ideals to 




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ensure the adequacy of manpower supply, or to sacrifice the fulfillment of 
some of the economic needs to better respond to individual claims and 
social pressures. 

They are on the other hand, faced with many questions. To what 
extent should education be deployed for the requirements of development 
plans, and hence to what extent should education be planned and 
controlled? At what stage should specialization through vocational 
education and training (VET) commence? How broad-based or how 
narrow-based, and hence what are the components, of any educational 
programme, especially in VET schemes? What is the role of industry, 
and the enterprise in general, in VET? 

II. Occupational Levels and Educational Outputs 

Every occupation comprises a great number of functions, tasks and 
skills performed by individuals of varying performance, ability and 
degree of responsibility, thus requiring different occupational and skill 
levels as part of the more comprehensive 'division of labour' concept. In 
practice the skill ladder is usually divided into 'bands' to simplify the 
process of classification, the hierarchy of responsibility, and the design of 
humanpower development programmes. 

Figure (2) shows a diagrammatic representation of one of the well- 
known systems of occupational levels and the relation with the outputs of 
the various educational levels. 



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Figure (2): Occupational Levels and Educational Outputs 



Occupational levels at the top of the skill ladder include 
professionals and technicians (sub-professionals) who are usually 
prepared in tertiary level educational institutions; while occupational 
levels at the base of the skill ladder comprise skilled workers and 
craftsmen prepared frequently within secondary education or parallel to 
it. A professional or specialist is in general, prepared in educational 
institutes of university level. A sub-professional or technician, on the 
other hand, is prepared usually in educational institutes of sub-university, 
but within the tertiary, level of education such as community and 
technical colleges. The basic occupational levels, which comprise various 
categories of craftsmen, skilled workers and limited-skills workers, are 
not usually defined internationally in terms of the required educational 
levels as is the case with upper occupational levels of professionals and 
technicians. Different countries have different standards, educational 
backgrounds and systems of manpower preparation at the basic 
occupational levels, although it is becoming more and more accepted that 
such levels lie at least within the senior stage of secondary education or 
parallel to it, inside or outside the formal education system. 

Occupational classifications and standards within the various 
occupational levels is an area that has important reflections on both the 
development and utilization aspects of humanpower. Employers should 
be full partners in the initiation, development and implementation of the 
relevant activities. Apart from the fact that such classifications and 
standards should emanate from the changing demand of the world of 
work, they have direct influence on such matters as wage structures, 
labour mobility and performance standards of the labour force. 

It is worthwhile noting here that the traditional pyramid-like 
distribution of the labour force among the various occupational levels is 
gradually being replaced by an ellipse-like distribution in modem 
economies, as illustrated in Figure (3). A big deficit or surplus at the 
higher occupational levels can be as much a source of imbalance and 
economic weakness as a similar deficit or surplus at the basic 
occupational levels. 




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cv 

tH 





: Pyramid-like distribution. 



III. Systems of Vocational Education and Training (VET). 



Three main systems exist in practice for VET as a component of 
HRD frameworks and institutions. One or more of such systems might 
exist in any one country. These systems are: 

(i) The school system 

The school system for VET is usually implemented in formal 
educational institutions. The trainee, who is thus a student in a 
vocational school or training centre, acquires his vocational 
preparation through some approved formal programmes in the 
educational institution itself, with little or no direct contact with the 
world of work. The relevant programmes consist usually of 
general and specialized theoretical components, in addition to the 
practical component which is implemented almost exclusively in 
special workshops and laboratories attached to the school. 
Nevertheless, it is not unusual for a school system to develop some 
useful links with the world of work. Such links could incorporate 
training standards, and an element of on-the-job training. 

(ii) The enterprise (on-the-job) system 

The enterprise system is implemented on-the-job at the work place 
and employers’ premises. The trainee, who is thus either a full- 
fledged worker or under special contract, acquires his vocational 
preparation on-the-job, with emphasis being placed on the practical 
skills component. Enterprise systems vary between informal 
traditional apprenticeship schemes on one end, and well-structured 
apprenticeship schemes on the other end. 

% 

(iii) The integrated (dual) system 

The integrated or dual system for VET combines both the school 
and the enterprise systems. The implementation takes place 
partially in educational institutions and partially in enterprises, with 
full coordination. The role of the educational institution comprises 
usually the theoretical instruction component which might include 
a general education element in addition to the specialized element. 
In some schemes, the educational institution provides some 




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13 



elements of the practical skills needed, especially basic non- 
specialized and back-up skills that cannot be provided by the 
relevant enterprise. The role of the enterprise, on the other hand, 
comprises basically all or most of the practical training component, 
especially for the specialized parts of it. The involvement of 
employers within the dual system could incorporate, in addition to 
the provision of training facilities, the appointment of full or part- 
time instructors; and the payment of apprenticeship wages to the 
trainees. 

The training programme, including the detailed contents and 
certification is usually drawn up through full coordination between 
the concerned parties, although the relevant training standards are 
expected to be drawn up by the enterprise. 

Formal apprenticeship schemes with a substantial off-the-job 
element is the usual model for dual systems. In such systems, the 
trainee is, in practice, a worker under training and a student in an 
educational institution at the same time. In the case of large 
enterprises, the off-the-job educational facilities can be provided at 
the employers’ premises. 

The question of whether vocational preparation should be the 
responsibility of the education system or that of the enterprise is a major 
issue, especially in developing countries. If vocational, and hence 
manpower, preparation is interpreted broadly to comprise any type and 
level of education and training made available to the individual to prepare 
him for his future vocation, then most, if not all, of higher education at 
the professional and sub-professional levels in universities and technician 
institutes can be classified as vocational preparation. But at these higher 
occupational levels, the predominant responsibility of the education 
system is taken for granted; although, in some countries, technician 
education in particular is a shared responsibility. Therefore, it is 
vocational education and training for the preparation of skilled workers 
and craftsmen at the basic occupational levels that is contested in practice 
between the school and the enterprise. 

Those who support a school-based model of manpower preparation 
at the basic occupational levels require that the education system should 




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14 



be responsible for policy-making, planning and overall content 

specification and criteria. The rationale for such an approach stems from 
the view that education is an activity intended for the development of the 
individual and, thus, encompasses both general and vocational education. 
Such a view assumes that the enterprise is unable to take overall 
responsibility for manpower preparation without running the risk that 
one-sided narrow economic criteria will govern the various aspects of the 
training programme, including its objectives, content, standards and 
quality. 

The supporters of an enterprise-based model of manpower 

preparation at the basic occupational levels believe that, because such 
preparation is mainly connected with the requirements of the enterprise, it 
should have little place in the school. The scope of responsibilities of the 
enterprise in this case includes policy-making, planning, standards setting 
and content specification. Industry-based vocational preparation schemes 
are, in general, more economical than school-based ones. This is because 
productive work can more readily be undertaken by trainees, and because 
of the possibility of utilizing existing facilities, at least partially, instead 
of establishing new ones. But a major consideration in this respect is the 
fact that the greater part of the training cost is usually distributed among 
employers. It is usually argued in support of the enterprise approach that, 
at the basic occupational levels, the training needs of industry can more 
effectively be responded to through in-plant training because of its 
relevance, flexibility, cost effectiveness and ability to offer smooth 
transition to work. In practice, the school system is often at a 
disadvantage when new specific training needs emerge, and frequently 
runs the risk of a mismatch between its output and employment 
requirements. 

In many countries, two separate systems of vocational preparation at 
the basic occupational levels exist side by side; one is school based and 
the other is enterprise based. This can partially be attributed in 
developing countries to the fact that industrial development is rather new 
and partial. Formal in-plant vocational preparation is thus a newcomer, 
while a traditional school-based system would have been in existence for 
some time. The introduction of the in-plant system is usually facilitated 




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15 



by the expanding needs of new industrial developments and the inability 
of the education system to respond effectively both quantitatively and 
qualitatively. One of the main shortcomings in this case is that the two 
systems usually exist and develop without effective coordination and, 
sometimes, even with mistrust and rivalry. 

IV. Evaluation of Vocational Education and Training 
Programmes 

Three main criteria exist for the evaluation of VET programmes. As 
will be seen, such criteria are linked with varying degrees to the criteria 
and changing demands of the world of work: 

(i) Internal Evaluation 

The internal evaluation of VET programmes is generally concerned 
with assessing the degree of compatibility between the outputs of 
such programmes and the performance objectives already set out 
for them. Such evaluation can be implemented through various 
measures, including the assessment of: 

• trainee performance and achievement. 

• trainer proficiency and performance. 

• training programme. 

• training facilities. 

Internal evaluation has an indirect link with the world of work, and 
can be isolated from it. Nevertheless, such a link can be 
strengthened through the involvement of employers in the 
assessment of the various elements covered by internal evaluation. 

(ii) Economic Evaluation 

The economic evaluation of VET programmes can be considered 
part of the internal evaluation of such programmes. It is concerned 
mainly with the assessment of such indicators as: 

• efficiency of utilization of training facilities. 

• cost-benefit rates. 

• lost income by the trainee during the training period. 

• extra income gained by the trainee, that is attributed to the 
training programme. 



• comparative studies related to the cost of different VET 
systems. 

• the rise in productivity at the work place, that can be attributed 
to the training programme. 

As in the case of internal evaluation, most elements of the 
economic evaluation of VT programmes have an indirect link 
with the world of work, although an element like the influence of 
VET programmes on productivity has a direct link with the work 
place. 

(iii) External Evaluation 

Unlike the internal and economic kinds of evaluation which are 
inherently inward looking, the external evaluation of VET 
programmes is outward looking, as it is basically concerned with 
assessing the degree of compatibility between the relevant 
programme, including its performance, objectives and outputs, on 
the one hand; and employment requirements and work needs on the 
other. External evaluation is especially important in the case of 
school systems which usually run the risk of loosing contact with 
the world of work. It can be implemented through various 
measures, including the assessment of : 

• results of follow-up studies on graduates. 

• employment-unemployment characteristics of graduates. 

• the time lag, if any, between the completion of training and 
joining employment. 

• wage structures. 

• adaptation time needed to assume full production status. 

• the size and type of special and initiation training that should 
be provided by the employer. 

• feedback information from employers. 

• feedback information from employed graduates. 

• productivity and work standards. 

It is clear that a direct link exists between the external evaluation 
of VET programmes and the world of work. In fact, such 
evaluation is rooted in the needs and requirements of the world of 
work. 




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17 



It is worthwhile noting that a comprehensive assessment of VET 
programmes takes into consideration all three kinds of evaluation, 
especially that a positive outcome of one kind does not necessarily 
indicate that a similar outcome can be expected from the other two kinds. 

V. The Role of The World of Work in VET 

The role of the world of work, represented by the various types of 
enterprises in vocational education and training can be explored through 
four main functions: planning, financing, implementation, and 

identification of training needs. 

The following is a brief discussion of each of these functions. 

VI. The Planning Function 

The quality and efficiency of VET systems depend, to a great extent, 
on the quality of planning for such systems. The credibility and 
effectiveness of the planning function, on the other hand, is closely 
related to the involvement of all the concerned agencies, not the least of 
which are the employers whose enterprises are the main target for VET 
programmes. The involvement of the private sector in the planning 
function for VET can assume many forms, and can be realized through 
different measures. These include: 

i. Legislation 

Laws, by-laws and regulations in such fields as labour, 
employment, education and human resources development, 
can be utilized to provide the legislative umbrella and legal 
framework for defining the role of the world of work in the 
planning for HRD in general, and for VET in particular. 

ii. Institutional Frameworks 

The involvement of the private sector in the institutional setups 
related to the planning for VET can be secured through active 
and full-fledged participation of employers' representatives in 
the relevant boards, councils, commissions and committees 
responsible for the planning and supervision functions at the 




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institution and local levels, as well as on the systems and 
national levels. 

iii. Curriculum Development 

Employers' participation in curriculum development for VET 
systems and programmes is an important aspect of the private 
sector involvement in the planning function. Through such 
participation, the employment and labour market needs of the 
various VET programmes can rationally be taken into 
consideration. 

iv. Information Systems 

The availability of effective information systems is essential for 
the provision of the necessary database needed for planning 
activities. Information systems in this case should cover both 
the supply and demand sides of humanpower. The quantitative 
and qualitative aspects of human power and training needs of 
the various economic sectors are the major components in such 
database, which can be secured through full coordination and 
cooperation between the world of work and the relevant public 
and private sector agencies. 

VII. The Financing Function 

Practices vary considerably between countries as to the sources and 
means of funding for VET systems and programmes. In general, VET 
can be funded through four main sources: 

i. Taxpayers 

Funding from the taxpayers through the state budget is an 
option which is sometimes resorted to when VET is viewed as a 
national responsibility which should be shouldered by the 
whole population according to the income level of the various 
cohorts. 

This source of funding is common in many countries, 
especially in developing countries; and is usually utilized to 
finance school systems of VET. It has the disadvantage 



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19 



sometimes of being inadequate, especially in countries with 
limited resources, because it is not given due priority in 
national budgets. 

ii. Employers 

Funding of VET from industry and business in the private 
sector is an option that gains credibility when VET is viewed as 
an activity earmarked for the direct benefit of employers. 
Apprenticeship schemes, on-the-job training, and dual systems 
of training are examples of VET schemes that are usually 
funded, totally or partially, by employers. In addition to paying 
the wages of trainees and apprentices, employers' financial 
responsibilities include the provision of training facilities and 
paying the wages of instructors and training officers. In some 
cases, a special tax or training levy is applied on industrial and 
business enterprises to secure funding for national VET 
systems. 

iii. Beneficiaries 

According to this funding option, the learners, trainees and their 
families, who are considered the main beneficiaries of the 
relevant VET services on the individual level, are expected to 
meet the costs, totally or partially. Training fees, acceptance of 
reduced wages, and involvement in productive activities, are 
some of the practices that lead to the involvement of trainees in 
the funding of VET. 

When VET is utilized for the preparation and training of skilled 
workers and craftsmen at the basic occupational levels, 
charging training fees is not a common practice, except when 
private (profit or non-profit making) institutions and agencies 
are the providers of the relevant services. 

iv. Voluntary Efforts 

Donations, grants and fund-raising activities can be an 
important source of funding for VET services, especially when 
such services are targeted to special groups of the population, 
including the handicapped and the underprivileged. 




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20 



VIII. The Implementation Function 



The role of the world of work in the implementation of VET 
programmes can be categorized into two main groups of activities. The 
first group is generally related to in-service training activities for those 
who are already employed. Such activities are usually of short- duration 
nature and include such variations as initiation training for newly 
appointed employees, re-training for new jobs and skills, and upgrading 
training to raise the competence of employees and enhance their 
productivity. The second group is related to pre-service education and 
training activities, such as formal and non-formal types of apprenticeship, 
aiming at the full preparation of labour for the needs of the enterprise 
through a programme of vocational education and training which, in this 
case, is usually of longer duration and a more comprehensive nature. 

The positive role of the enterprise in the first category of in-service 
training activities for employees at all occupational levels has long been 
taken for granted, and employers are realising more and more how 
important it is to have a comprehensive policy for the development of the 
skills and abilities of their work force. The services and facilities needed 
for such in-service training activities can be provided either "in-house" by 
the enterprise itself, or by an external agency. It is in the field of the 
second category of pre-service vocational preparation programmes, to 
prepare skilled workers and craftsmen, that practices and judgements 
differ considerably, as shown earlier. 

IX. Identification of Training Needs 

The identification of training needs of the world of work is governed 
in general by economic considerations and production requirements with 
the objective of providing the labour force needed in the various fields 
and at the various levels; in addition to raising productivity, enhancing 
performance standards, and improving product quality. At the enterprise 
level, a comprehensive approach to the identification of training needs 
incorporates the following elements. 




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21 



(i) Studying official and unofficial national policies of human 

resources development, as well as the provisions of 

socioeconomic development plans. This includes strategies, 
policies and plans related to education, employment, labour 
mobility and the expected surpluses and shortages in 
humanpower. 

(ii) Identifying policies and objectives of humanpower 

development in the enterprise. Such policies should be 
explicitly or implicitly adopted or should have already been 
adopted by top management. They include sources of 
recruitment, extent of modernisation, promotion policies, 
modes of administrative structures and lines of authority. 

(iii) Assessing the humanpower situation in the enterprise. An 
appropriate database would be of great value in this respect. 
The assessment of the huamnpower situation as it exists usually 
takes into consideration the quantitative and qualitative aspects. 
The quantitative aspects identify the number of employees in 
the various departments and administrative units at the various 
occupational levels. The qualitative aspects, on the other hand, 
identify the characteristics of the labour force including 
educational background, work experience, rates of turnover, 
age profiles, as well as performance standards and 
potentialities. 

(iv) Assessing the humanpower needs of the enterprise. Such 
assessment also takes into consideration the quantitative and 
qualitative aspects that are of relevance. Of special importance 
are the plans for expansion of production activities, rates of 
labour turnover, modernisation and development plans, and 
division of labour policies. 




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22 




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Title: Vocational EDUCATION AMD THL CHANGING- 

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V. WHERE TO SEND THIS FORM: 



Send this form to the following ERIC Clearinghouse: 

Associate Director for Database Development 
ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education 
Center on Education and Training for Employment 
1900 Kenny Road 
Columbus, OH 43210-1090 



However, if solicited by the ERIC Facility, or if making an unsolicited contribution to ERIC, return this form (and the document beina 
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ERIC 



088 (Rev. 9/97) 

KHtVIOUS VERSIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE.