Bush Praises N.C. Community Colleges' Economic Help
Posted March 14, 2008 1:39 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2008 2:50 p.m. EDT
New York — President Bush praised North Carolina’s community college system Friday during a speech at The Economic Club of New York.
For about 90 seconds, Bush spoke in glowing terms about how North Carolina's community colleges trained the work force for a changing economy.
“What the state of North Carolina did was they wisely used their community college system to be able to fit needs and skills (of workers),” he said.
When textiles moved out, community colleges stepped in, Bush said.
“North Carolina recognized they had a great opportunity to become a magnet for the health care industry. And a lot of their textile workers, with government help called ‘trade adjustment assistance,’ went to community colleges to gain new skills," Bush said.
"And it turns out, that when you analyze what happened, it’s just the added value, it’s just kind of the increase in productivity and the relevancy of the job training that made the wages higher for those than they were in the textile industry.”
Dr. Steve Scott, president of Wake Technical Community College, said his college worked to adjust its offerings to better suit workers' needs.
"We have been in the business of being flexible and providing new and different kinds of training," Scott said.
Bush called community colleges “probably the most market-driven education system in the United States, unlike some higher education intuitions that are either unwilling or sometimes incapable of adjusting curriculum.”
The average age of the 60,000 students at Wake Tech is 35 – a fact that reflects school officials' efforts to shape the curriculum to meet the short- and long-term needs of the Triangle's economy, Scott said.
"When a new company, like say Credit Swiss, comes to town, we will provide customized training for them," Scott said.
Retired physicist James Kinn was learning to become a chef. He enrolled in a professional writing class to prepare him for what he thinks his new career will require.
"Written communication, how to do it for a business – remember, I ultimately want to be in business, so that's the kind of communication I need to deal with," Kinn said.
More than 800,000 students are enrolled in community college statewide. In-state tuition is about $670 for a full load of classes each semester.