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JOB DATA SHOWS U.S. NEEDS MORE VOCATIONAL STUDENTS; 'TOOLS FOR TOMORROW' PROJECT TO PROMOTE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN AMERICA

JOB DATA SHOWS U.S. NEEDS MORE VOCATIONAL STUDENTS; 'TOOLS FOR TOMORROW'
 PROJECT TO PROMOTE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN AMERICA
 BUTLER, Pa., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Because 85 percent of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States currently require vocational education and training, many more vocational students will be needed to meet the growing demand for skilled workers in this decade. For that to happen, however, experts agree that Americans must change outdated attitudes and perceptions about vocational students and encourage more young people to pursue vocational education.
 To help address that problem, SERVISTAR Corporation, one of the nation's largest hardware/lumber/home center retailers, has announced a major initiative to promote and support vocational-technical education in the United States. Called "Tools for Tomorrow," this multimillion- dollar project is expected to be the single largest program of its kind ever sponsored by an American corporation.
 "Tools for Tomorrow" will work to raise public awareness of the importance of vocational education and highlight the accomplishments and contributions of students in communities across the United States. It also will work to provide resources and financial assistance to vocational schools and students in SERVISTAR communities.
 "The skills of the American worker are fundamental to our competitiveness in world markets," says SERVISTAR President and Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Zehfuss. "Skill-based occupations are expected to lead the way toward economic growth in this decade, yet U.S. vocational students do not receive the same level of attention, support and encouragement as students from other industrialized countries. 'Tools for Tomorrow' is intended to call attention to the critical importance of our nation's vocational schools, and help support our vocational teachers and students."
 Vocational-technical education encompasses over 400 skill-based occupations in such broadly defined fields as agriculture, business, health care, marketing, technology and the industrial trades.
 Nationwide, nearly 16 million students participate in vocational education programs aimed at developing occupational skills. These skills are taught at 26,000 secondary schools, technical institutes and community colleges. At the high school level alone, there are nearly 1,400 specialized centers for vocational education, as well as several hundred dedicated vocational high schools.
 According to the American Vocational Association, 18 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require a vocational education. And a 1991 Occupational Employment Projection Report, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that by the year 2005 more than 1.7 million new vocational-technical jobs will be created in the top 20 fastest-growing occupations.
 In contrast, less than 30 percent of all jobs currently require a four-year college degree. However, a 1990 study commissioned by the U.S. General Accounting Office concluded that "insufficient attention is devoted to preparing non-college youth for employment. Several major industrial nations -- including Japan, Germany and Sweden -- invest proportionally more money and effort in education and training of their non-college youth than does the United States."
 "In the United States, we have always valued a four-year college degree as the ultimate goal for students," said Betsy Brand, assistant secretary of Adult and Vocational Education, U.S. Department of Education. "And yet, the promising careers and good salaries that are awaiting students lie in the technical fields."
 The main objective of "Tools for Tomorrow" is to help change outmoded perceptions of vocational education -- and its students. SERVISTAR is launching a nationwide public education initiative to focus on the link between vocational education and U.S. competitiveness. At the community level, "Tools for Tomorrow" will work to build community support of local vocational students and educational programs.
 A major element of "Tools for Tomorrow" is the "SERVISTAR All-American Vocational Student Awards" program, a nationwide competition designed to identify the top vocational students in each community, and across the country, and to provide awards for excellence to these students. Local winners, announced during National Vocational Education Week in February, will earn the right to go on to state and/or national judging.
 "Tools for Tomorrow" will be funded by the "SERVISTAR Vocational Education Assistance Fund," created through the sale of SERVISTAR private-label products. A portion of the proceeds of these sales will be earmarked for SERVISTAR's support of vocational education under this program.
 "Public vocational-technical education needs the support of a corporate champion," said Stephen Denby, executive director of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in Leesburg, Va. "Improving the image of vocational education is one of the chief concerns of school principals, teachers and students across America. SERVISTAR's 'Tools for Tomorrow' program focuses on classroom excellence and endorses the careers students have chosen. To my knowledge, no other company has risen to this challenge the way SERVISTAR has."
 SERVISTAR, headquartered in Butler, Pa., is a member-owned wholesaler with more than 4,000 hardware, lumber and home center stores worldwide. The company also operates Coast to Coast Stores, Inc.; Grand Rental Station(R); and Home and Garden Showplace(R). Company sales in 1991 exceeded $1.3 billion.
 -0- 9/1/92
 /CONTACT: Vera Robb of MARC Public Relations, 412-281-9779, for SERVISTAR/ CO: SERVISTAR Corporation ST: Pennsylvania IN: REA SU:


JT-MP -- PG001 -- 5268 09/01/92 08:45 EDT
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Date:Sep 1, 1992
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