Governing VET in the United States: Localization Versus Centralization

  • David Boesel
Part of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (TVET, volume 15)


This chapter examines the governance of secondary vocational education and training (VET) in the United States, with comparative reference to the German model. It contrasts the decentralization of American VET with the centralization of Germany’s dual system. In the United States, states and localities are responsible for the conduct of vocational education, and VET programs vary accordingly. Over the years, the federal government has tried, with some success, to set the overall direction and define the agenda for vocational education. However, progress has been slow, as state and local VET programs have endeavored to adapt federal VET initiatives to their own agendas. The closer one gets to the operational details and actual conduct of VET in schools, the further one gets from the vision and guidance of federal policy. This diffusion of federal education programs has made it difficult for the government to implement reforms. Difficult is not the same as impossible, though. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has demonstrated that through a combination of political will and sanctions, the federal government can implement large-scale change in local schools. Whether such an approach would be feasible or desirable for VET is open to debate.


Vocational Education Postsecondary Institution Local District Vocational Program Occupational Field 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Science Research GroupSeverna ParkUSA

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