ASHEBORO, N.C. — Hours before delivering his first State of the State address, Gov. Pat McCrory delivered on one of his campaign promises Monday by signing legislation that places more emphasis on vocational education in North Carolina high schools.
Increase Access to Career and Technical Education, a bill sponsored by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, is aimed at preparing students for jobs now available in the state.
"Even with the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, I still talk to employers – even here in Randolph County – who say they can't find qualified employees to fill our job openings. We need to close the gap between education and commerce," McCrory said in signing the bill at Randolph Community College.
One of the features of the bill allows high school students to get training and earn diplomas with endorsements marking them ready for a career, college or both.
"Vocational training, along with four-year college degrees, (is) equally important to our families, to our economy, to society," McCrory said.
The governor toured the machine shop at the community college before signing the bill.
Student Bill Cranford said he hopes the skills he's learning in the machining program will help him get a job in the manufacturing industry when he graduates in May. He said he was forced to retrain after his job in the dairy industry moved elsewhere.
"I think anything that gives kids a new opportunity or a better leg up on what to do with their future is a good thing," Cranford said.
The new law also makes it easier for people with certain skills become teachers by eliminating some of the requirements and certifications typically required to become a teacher.