The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 marked the first time federal funding was available to schools. Charles A. Prosser (1871-1952), is considered the architect of the bill.
The bill met the needs of the agricultural base of the times, but for many educators and citizens, vocational education was thought of as a program for those who were not academically inclined and needed to learn to work with their hands.
Seventy-three years later, the Perkins Act of 1990 provided a definition of vocational education programs as a sequence of courses directly related to preparing individuals in paid and unpaid employment in present and emerging occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.
It took nearly 30 years more but people found vocational education an intelligent choice for career planning. Community colleges were often the community leaders in vocational training. As online vocational education programs become popular, many universities joined the competition for students.
Many factors have contributed to vocational education’s gain to its rightful place in our society.
A few generational lifestyle changes affecting vocational education: In the Industrial Age, it was subject centered, teacher driven, with a structured delivery system and was degree centered. In the Information Age, it is individual centered, job skills driven, technology centered and career goals oriented.
My mentioning a few of the factors affecting vocational education and the potential problems created in this information overload age are offered only as an introduction to the current status of vocational education.