North Georgia Technical College, the first vocational school in Georgia, is located in Clarkesville, the seat of Habersham County. The school also operates satellite campuses in Blairsville (Union County) and Toccoa (Stephens County), along with eight learning centers, including one at Arrendale State Prison in Habersham County. All these facilities cater to North Georgia Tech’s eight-county service delivery area, which also includes Fannin, Franklin, Rabun, Towns, and White counties. The economy of this area, which rests at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is largely based on agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Based on the number of graduates, the most popular programs at North Georgia Tech in 2005 were data entry, general secretarial science, and industrial mechanics and maintenance technology. The college is part of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
As early as 1943, the Georgia state director of vocational education, M. D. Mobley, lobbied for a system of area trade schools. This led to the opening of the state’s first vocational school, North Georgia Trade and Vocational School, which opened in Clarkesville in 1944. The school offered such programs as automotive mechanics, radio and communications, and welding.
Expansion of the main campus facility began as early as 1947, with the construction of a 900-seat gymnasium, and continued into the 1950s and 1960s. In an effort to reflect the new role technology played in vocational education, the school’s name was changed to North Georgia Technical and Vocational School under the direction of H. O. Carlton in 1962. Carlton was succeeded by James Marlowe in 1969. Further additions and renovations were made to North Georgia Tech’s main campus in 1976, 1977, and 1979.
North Georgia Tech transferred from local to state governance in 1985 and became known as North Georgia Technical Institute in 1987. In 1988 the school came under the direction of the newly formed Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) and in 1989 began implementing adult literacy and General Education Development (GED) degree programs in its service area.
Expansion continued with the opening of the Blairsville campus in 1998. In 2000, due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to become colleges, the school officially changed its name to North Georgia Technical College. Ruth Nichols, the college’s current president, was appointed president that same year. The Currahee campus in Toccoa opened in 2005.
According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 3,124 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs at North Georgia Tech. An additional 6,259 students were enrolled in noncredit courses, and 1,960 were enrolled in the college’s adult literacy programs.
In 2007 the DTAE created the Technical College System of Georgia, an entity comprising the thirty-four colleges under its administration, and in 2008 the DTAE’s name officially changed to TCSG.
Technical Education and Economic Development Programs
The TCSG, in overseeing the state’s system of thirty-four technical colleges, its economic and workforce development programs, and its adult literacy program, has as its primary objective to create a well-educated, technically trained, and highly competitive workforce to ensure the economic success of the state and its citizens.
As with other technical colleges governed by the TCSG, admission to North Georgia Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs). A GED or high school diploma is required for admission to all degree programs and some other programs. All diploma programs require a GED or high school diploma before graduating from the college. If standards for a certain credit program are met, students can earn an associate degree, an expanded program of study that facilitates career mobility and continuing education at the baccalaureate level; a traditional diploma; or a technical certificate of credit, a short-term targeted program that prepares students for specific jobs.
In 2007 the school exhibited its culinary arts, environmental science, and commercial photography programs in Atlanta at the “Taste of the Technical Colleges,” an event that showcases valued programs in technical education. That same year the school implemented an electrical lineworker apprentice program in partnership with Georgia Power Company and area electric membership corporations (EMCs). Students receive a solid foundation in all types of electrical line work, and graduates are guaranteed job interviews.
North Georgia Tech’s economic development programs include a Service Industry Academy, which provides customer service training for workers in service sector jobs, including those in banking, insurance, and telecommunications. Graduates of the academy are guaranteed employment interviews at such area businesses as Alltel, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Community Bank and Trust, and Fieldale Farms. The college is also home to an American Heart Association training center, which offers basic life support courses for the surrounding community.
North Georgia Tech has forged numerous business partnerships through Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries in Georgia. The college has provided workforce training for such companies as Toccoa Metal Finishing and TI Automotive in Hartwell.