WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — The unemployment rate is declining in North Carolina, but it remains higher than the national average. Textiles and tobacco have suffered the hardest hits in the state, however, there are fields that are looking for applicants. Jobs are waiting for one group of students the second they graduate.
Friday was graduation day for Wake Tech's Fall Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program. Graduate Charles Smith said the class had to learn a lot.
"We were tested on 33 topic areas -- a total of 608 curriculum hours that are mandated," he said.
Most of the future officers learned they are in demand. Sixteen of the 28 graduates have jobs waiting for them.
"Right now, there seems to be a shortage of not people applying for jobs, but there is a shortage of people who are qualified to be police officers to begin with," said Tommy Edwards, of Wake Tech.
"We started putting in applications a month before we graduate," graduate Roy Baldwin said.
Baldwin was sworn in with the Fuquay-Varina Police Department after the graduation ceremony.
"As far as law enforcement and as far as the Fuquay-Varina Police Department is concerned, it gives us an opportunity to come and present ourselves to the BLET class," interim Fuquay-Varina Police Chief Jerry Phillips said. "We want to show what opportunities there are in Fuquay and how the town is growing or changing."
Fuquay-Varina is not alone. Other area departments like Wake County, Garner and Zebulon are also in the audience ready to hire.
"We're sort of like scouts watching them, hoping we get the right one," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.
Smith not only graduated from the program. He has a job waiting for him with the Wake County Sheriff's Office. Wake Tech has a fall and spring class. Harrison said it is cheaper to recruit from the training program rather than run one on his own.