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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Vocational Education

by E. Michael Latta, 2006

See also: Education; Community Colleges; Adult Education

Vocational education-sometimes referred to as occupational or technical education-is an organized educational program that trains individuals for paid or unpaid employment or for additional preparation for a career that does not require a baccalaureate or advanced degree. The federal Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 made funds available to North Carolina and other states that supported vocational education; these funds, subsequently controlled by the State Board of Education, helped facilitate the growth of occupational training programs throughout the state. In 1963 North Carolina's community college system was created, establishing a statewide system of institutions that offer adults technical, vocational, and adult education programs in a variety of fields. In 1977 the General Assembly passed a law that formally recognized the importance of vocational education in the state's public education system. Vocational education is available in the public secondary schools, community colleges, and teacher education programs within the university system.


Governor's Study Commission on the Public School System of North Carolina, Occupational Education for the Public Schools of North Carolina (1968).

E. Michael Latta, The North Carolina Story (1989).