John C. Brooks
516 North Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27604
OSHA Program Objective
Office Needs an Attorney
Establishing a Flagship Skills-Training Post High School Residential Institute
Under the auspices of The University of North Carolina
The challenge of competing in today’s global economy means that the State must
confront both ends of economic growth. One end is the State’s ability to equip
our young people with the skills necessary to produce durable complicated
products and the other end is the State’s ability to equip our young people with
the skills necessary to install and repair complicated products.
Today’s lack of skilled labor accounts for the President’s lifting immigration
quotas for foreigners who possess the skills in 600 or more technical crafts,
accounts for the deportation of many better-paying jobs, and accounts for North
Carolina’s frequent failure to recruit the kind of high-skill job-employers to
which the State aspires. This same lack of skilled labor accounts for U.S.
consumers finding it cheaper to throw away or discard malfunctioning technical
devices and purchase new replacements that are manufactured abroad, with
resulting higher and higher imbalances in the U.S. balance of payments month
What is greatly needed is a post high school residential skills academy that
would be this State’s flagship vocational education institution, sufficiently
funded to make a difference. This academy should be under the auspices of the
University of North Carolina. When proposed in the past, detractors have asked
why such an institution should not be a part of the Community College System.
The essential reasons for placing such an institution within the University
System are all critical to its success. The available faculty within the U.S. is
scarce at the present time and to recruit quality faculty would require the
salary schedules and flexibility found in the University System, not the
Community College System. Successful recruitment of faculty would necessitate
their having a status that only the University can provide. Such a faculty needs
access to publishing in recognized academic journals and in being recognized in
the national academic community. No community college in North Carolina can
successfully recruit faculty from MIT, Ohio State University, or Cal Tech.
The decision to locate the biotechnology center on the Campus of N.C. State
attests to the accuracy of these same conclusions. The biotechnology center
would normally be one of twelve to sixteen departments of this kind of skills
A location adjacent to N.C. State University would be a special asset since the
curriculum of a skills academy would not remain static and current faculty at
N.C. State University in more traditional studies could teach allied courses on
occasion at the academy without the academy having to duplicate these positions
on a full-time basis.
Quality skills training is much more expensive per student than what is normally
confronted with the regular curriculums found in our community colleges.
Expensive equipment is almost always required. The current community college
system doesn’t have the resources to provide quality skills training and when
given the choice of spending $1,000,000 on training six students, to be crane
operators for instance, versus having another computer course for 300 students,
each community college has almost always chosen the latter.
The State can’t actually afford to furnish the kind of faculty and equipment
ultimately needed for quality skills training at 85 community colleges. This
State’s population distribution also makes this approach impractical. For
instance, the State may need to train twenty elevator mechanics at any one time.
For this training, there may need to be four to six multi-storied training
towers for a variety of elevator installations. The equipment for this training
might easily be $5,000,000. Only a single residential training facility for this
purpose makes sense.
Here are the kinds of services that a skills academy could provide:
1. It could establish for the first time a training facility to educate
vocational education teachers for both high schools and community colleges. It
could establish an accreditation program similar to what we have for all other
public school teachers.
2. Using the Institute of Government at Chapel Hill as a model, it could provide
residential programs of two weeks duration twice a year for the formal
apprentices in the State’s apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program is
scattered throughout the State and is designed to harness the current skilled
labor force of certified journeymen to train one-on-one another generation of
journeymen. These apprentices are required by the U.S. Department of Labor to
have 144 hours of related instruction each year. One reason that apprenticeship
training is weak in North Carolina is the unavailability of quality related
instruction. This State has not successfully harnessed its existing journeymen
into a system that will produce the kind of skilled labor force needed for
successful long-term economic growth, growth that produces well-paying jobs.
What the Institute of Government did for North Carolina local government was
provide a place where city and county officials such as clerks of court,
register of deeds, and highway patrolmen could go for training and take
refresher courses. Albert Coat’s initiative in establishing the Institute of
Government was a significant innovation for training local government officials
and has now been replicated in many other states.
3. It could produce course curriculum and materials, videos, and use the State’s
teleconferencing system for teaching at other locations.
4. It could house for the first time in North Carolina a significant library of
skills-related manuals, journals, periodicals and other educational materials.
These materials are not now in the community colleges’ libraries, and funds are
not now provided with which to acquire them.
5. It could provide the third and forth years of training required to train auto
mechanics. Currently auto mechanics is the single most offered technical
curriculum beyond computer courses in our community college system, but since to
become a certified auto mechanic requires four years of training and the
community college system only offers two years, this State still does not
produce the certified auto mechanics needed. The faculty required to offer the
third and fourth years of training requires more education and is more expensive
than that required to offer the introductory courses.
6. It could establish for the first time in North Carolina training in many of
the 560 technical curricula for which this State has none. Now North Carolina
offers some training in about 40 of the technical fields that make up the U.S.
economy. North Carolina has not positioned itself yet to compete in the emerging
7. It could do research and produce innovations in the techniques and materials
utilized by skilled craftsmen. It not only could train skilled workers how to
work safely, but could promote the safety of their end product.
In conclusion, the establishment of a skills academy by North Carolina would
position the State to compete more successfully in the emerging global economy
and would be an investment that would pay high dividends.