Which non-American education systems best prepare young people for fulfilling jobs and successful adult lives? And what can the United States—where far too many young people currently enter adulthood without adequate preparation for the twenty-first-century job market—learn, adopt, and adapt from these other systems?
In Schooling in the Workplace, Nancy Hoffman addresses these questions head on, arguing that “the smartest and quickest route to a wide variety of occupations for the majority of young people in the successful countries—not a default for failing students—is a vocational program that integrates work and learning.” As she notes, the programs that successfully integrate work and learning all share a fundamental commitment to helping young people find successful careers: “The purpose is not ‘college for all,’ as in the United States today, but rather to provide the education and training young people need to prepare for a career or calling.”
Schooling in the Workplace explores the vocational education programs in a wide range of countries, focusing in rich and useful detail on six in particular: Australia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland. Framing these discussions, however, is a persistent focus on American circumstances and challenges. Far more than a survey of six “foreign” programs, this is a book prompted by and organized around the policy and practical challenges facing the United States.
Nancy Hoffman offers a clear-eyed analysis of the American youth development problem and what we can learn from our European competitors, their successes and their failures. She suggests workable solutions in moving from a ‘completion’ agenda to a ‘learning for jobs’ agenda. This is a necessary read for those who are serious about addressing the real education needs of American youth in their transition to a productive adulthood. — James R. Stone III, professor and director, National Research Center for Career & Technical Education, University of Louisville
Schooling in the Workplace sheds new light on the urgency and effectiveness of integrating academic work and career preparation to help more young people succeed in the workforce. It is the right approach, now is the right time, and—as we are experiencing in California—it is achievable. — Anne Stanton, Program Director for Youth, The James Irvine Foundation
Nancy Hoffman takes us on a tour of countries that do an impressive job preparing their youth for careers through programs that situate learning in the workplace. As a country struggling with persistent high school dropout rates, achievement gaps, and the lowest youth employment rate in six decades, the United States should closely examine the policies of those countries that the author highlights: they point clearly to how we can do a better job preparing youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, for the world of work in our complex society. — Betsy Brand, executive director, American Youth Policy Forum