Looking into CCCAOE's History

In 1965, the Carl Perkins Vocational Education Act was passed into federal legislation and there was expanded support for vocational education both at the secondary and community college levels. Many colleges were expanding vocational programs and it was common for college districts at that time to create a position of Dean of Vocational Education. These new administrators were responsible for coordinating the District Vocational Education Plan, ensuring compliance with the Act, and promoting the growth of vocational education programs. For most proponents of vocational education, these programs were considered to be the industrial trades and agriculture. As the Perkins Act expanded however, Home Economics and Related Occupations, Distributive Education (marketing), Business Education, and Health Occupations became integral parts of the vocational education offerings.

The California Community College Administrators of Occupational Education (CCCAOE) was founded in 1967 to serve as a statewide organization to advocate and promote interest in and support for administrators having responsibility for vocational programs. This activity followed the Donahue Act of 1960 that established a separate state agency for community colleges and separated the colleges from the California Department of Education.

Early leadership in CCCAOE was male dominated and not very diverse. However, federal vocational education legislation mandated program diversity and gender equity far before this became a requirement throughout the college system. The early vocational education programs included the Vocational Education Act (Department of Education) and programs to support employment through the Department of Labor. College deans coordinated the activities of the Manpower Development Act (MDTA), the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) and finally the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). There was very little coordination between the Department of Education and the Department of Labor efforts until WIA was passed in 1996. This new legislation required coordination between the two acts.

In the 1970's the Career Education Act was passed by the Department of Education. Sidney P. Marlin, the Director of Education under the Department of Health and Human Services, was seeking a way to bring relevancy to education by getting students to focus on career paths. This legislation brought the first integration of vocational education and liberal arts education with the development of career pathways and the concept of continuous education. The Act was funded at the federal level until 1990 and at that time funding ended and the effort disappeared.

California then started to focus on basic skills at the secondary level, and vocational education started a steep decline, particularly in secondary education, as students were kept from electives to concentrate on basic skills courses. This was also the start of a drive to increase the number of students that went to four-year colleges and the impetus on vocational education began to diminish. However, during the mid-1980's the community colleges had expanded into programs providing contract education to business and industry, and that effort evolved into the economic development programs that are offered to businesses through the community colleges today. The program also evolved at the Chancellor's Office into the Economic Development unit (ED>Net) and created a new level within the organization to serve this market. The Board of Governors eventually identified economic development as one of the core missions of the California Community Colleges. This diversity of efforts and pathways for career and technical education has evolved into a very different setting than the vocational education programs of the 1960's.

At the Community College level, the organizational structure of the colleges became more focused on disciplines, and the concept of a vocational education vs. liberal arts configuration began to diminish. Eventually the term vocational education became career and technical education (CTE) and the offerings expanded from the traditional vocational education core to opportunities for pathways to careers that would lead to increased involvement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.

In response to a changing environment and evolving styles of leadership, CCCAOE membership was expanded in 1992, to include faculty, support staff, and individuals from public and private sectors with shared interest in promoting occupational education and economic development. It was at this time the organization became known as the California Community College Association for Occupational Education.

Growing concern is developing in the business community and in labor organizations as the secondary programs are experiencing dropout rates in the 30th percentile and students from ethnic minorities and males represent the major part of this loss. New attention is being focused on technical education and college-going rates to ensure we will have an appropriate workforce for the 21st century. The members of CCCAOE will be the vanguard to ensure the workforce for the future.


Donald F. Averill, Ed.D.
Chancellor Emeritus
San Bernardino CCD
CCCAOE Past President, 1984-1985

Ina Rae Lapum
Diablo Valley College (retired)
CCCAOE Past President, 1986-1987
Executive Secretary, CCCAOE, 1987-1999