Schooling in the Workplace

Schooling in the Workplace How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life

Nancy Hoffman, foreword by Stanley S. Litow
Pub. Date: November 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-445-2
paper, 224 Pages
Pub. Date: November 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-111-6
Price: $32.00

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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?


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

This book includes rich details that should be the source for such critical reflection, discourse, and action. — Judith Parker, Teachers College Record

Well written and filled with excellent recommendations, this book is a must read for those concerned with how the US can better assist its young adults, employers, and the country alike in reforming the transition from school to work, ensuring a well-prepared workforce for the future.  — T. Gutteridge, CHOICE

I enthusiastically endorse Hoffman’s final suggestion to the reader: 'Buy a plane ticket to one of the strong VET countries, talk to employers, see young people at work, and decide for yourself whether the system performs as described here.' Before you travel, I whole-heartedly recommend that you read this book. — Roland Osterlund, Center on International Education Benchmarking

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About the Author

Nancy Hoffman is a vice president and senior advisor at Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit in Boston, the mission of which is to improve educational and workforce outcomes for low-income young people and adults. She works on the Early College High School Initiative and state policy supporting high school and postsecondary completion. Hoffman serves as a consultant for the Education and Training Policy unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She has held teaching and administrative posts at Brown, Temple, Harvard, FIPSE, MIT, and elsewhere. She holds a BA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in comparative literature. Recent books include Women’s True Profession: Voices from the History of Teaching (2003), Double the Numbers: Increasing Postsecondary Credentials for Underrepresented Youth (with Kazis and Vargas, 2004), and Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It (with Vargas, Venezia, and Miller, 2007). Hoffman serves on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.