The quality, cost and effectiveness of area vocational training programs is the subject of a new $60,000 federally funded study being delivered this week to high school career guidance centers.
Students traditionally depend on these centers for guidance in the choice of their postgraduate vocational training.
But the value of the new report, which was compiled by two consumer organizations, was questioned yesterday by two counselors here who said it was incomplete in many instances. This, they said, made fair comparisons among job programs inpossible. The counselors also said the information that was included in the report often duplicated that found in existing literature.
"I would probably have put it [the study] together myself . . . A lot of the material is already here," said Cathy Gottlieb, a counselor at Wooton High School in Rockville.
The report is called "Where to Get Job Training in the D.C. Area." It lists 54 programs in which Washington area students may enroll in four career training programs -- secretary, data entry operator, electronics technician and TV and radio technician.
But only 24 of the programs are given scores on overall quality. For the remaining 30 programs, the report merely said: "Not enough information" was obtained to support a conclusion.
"They gave some general information, but they didn't seem to have enough input from the [job training] schools," said Judy Roussell, a counselor in the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services.
With more than half the overall quality ratings missing from the book, "obviously that leaves a lot of the report lacking." Roussell said.
Gregg B. Jackson, director of the report project, defended the omissions and blamed the training schools for failing to cooperate.
"The University of the District of Columbia gave us almost nothing voluntarily and Montgomery College refused to let us interview students," Jackson said.
The initial request for information was submitted to UDC last spring, said John Britton, a spokesman for the school. But the catalogue with job program details was not availble until the fall, he said.
Tom Kirkland, a representative of Montgomery College, said the research office, which normally would have received the request, had no record of one.
The study was prepared as a joint project by Washington Consumers' "Checkbook" and the National Consumers League, with a $60,000 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welware.
Jackson, the project director, said that the guide would help the estimated 20,000 students planning to enroll in job training programs in the Washington area this year, despite the lack of information on some schools.
"We probably obtained more information than students could get from the schools on their own," he said.
Jackson also stressed the need for students to check on school programs before paying tuitions that often add up to thousands of dollars.
An estimated 16,000 teen-agers between the ages of 16 and 19 are unemployed out of a potential work force of 126,000 in the Washington area, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. That works out to an unemployment rate of 13.1 percent a spokesman said.
About 4,000 copies of the book are being distributed to school career planning offices in the area. The rest are available to individuals, who can order a free copy by telephoning 347-9612.
In addition to listing programs for job training, the book offers tips on how students can evaluate schools before paying tuition. Among other suggestions, the book urges students to make sure they know what they have agreed to before signing enrollment forms.