Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow: A Conceptual Framework for Career and Technical Education

Publication February 2002

This document examines issues connected to the development of a conceptual framework for public career and technical education (CTE) in the United States. A viable conceptual framework for CTE or any other enterprise should represent consensus among its members concerning the scope, mission, and methods reflective of the profession. Such a framework should be dynamic, and subject to frequent debate and ongoing refinement. This paper, then, provides information to stimulate the debate about the present and future of CTE using the development of a conceptual framework as the vehicle for organizing and presenting critical issues.

First, the parameters of a conceptual framework are clarified, e.g.: What should a conceptual framework entail? Who should develop it? How should it be used? Next, the historical record is briefly reviewed to establish a context for discussion, as well as to outline the traditional positions adopted by professionals toward the scope and mission of career and technical education. Unfortunately, the field has not moved far in its deliberations about the purpose(s) of the field. In fact, philosophic positions originally posited in the early part of the 20th century—a la Prosser and Dewey—remain the predominant positions reflected in contemporary debate. Current and projected issues that affect both secondary and postsecondary CTE are also examined. Based on available information, a tentative conceptual framework is then advanced. Finally, the implications of the proposed conceptual framework for CTE teacher preparation programs are discussed.

Rojewski, J. W. (2002, February). Preparing the workforce of tomorrow: A conceptual framework for career and technical education. Columbus, OH: National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education.

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