Douglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrie.

The evolution of national systems of vocational reeducation for disabled soldiers and sailors online

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torily, that arrangements will have to be made in all the local centers whereby
an advisory committee of doctors, employers, and employees be formed, which
shall have the power to select the men who are to go into training and to
decide whether they are fit to undertake such work. I would, therefore, sug-
gest that all educational authorities in connection with this association be re-
quested, with the least possible delay, to form special advisory committees
consisting of employers and employed, who should have the controlling of these
courses. The existing facilities at these technical institutes should also be
readily placed at the service of such committees, and every assistance given to
carry out what is decided upon as the best policy to adopt for the training of
our disabled heroes.

The broad policy outlined by Maj. Mitchell seems to have antici-
pated a modification of the existing standards of technical educa-
tion. It is one thing to give young people a thorough trade training
lasting two or three years, and quite another to train handicapped
adults in a few weeks, or months, to become wage earners capable
of supporting a family. Under the exigencies of the situation, the
requirements usually insisted upon by technical schools aiming at
thorough knowledge of a trade must suffer some diminution. Skill
in a process, rather than knowledge of a trade, must be the object
aimed at.

Maj. Mitchell spoke not only as the director of one of the leading
technical institutes, but as one who had had nearly a year's experi-
ence in training limbless soldiers and sailors in two of the leading
military hospitals. When it was decided to establish curative work-
shops in the hospitals at Eoehampton and Brighton, to which men
who have lost limbs are sent to be treated and fitted with artificial
limbs, Maj. Mitchell was chosen to direct the courses. The results
already achieved with men before they were discharged from mili-
tary service equipped with artificial limbs gave weight to his opinion
as to what course should be pursued with men who had passed under
the civil control of the statutory committee. At that time 3,630
limbless men had passed through the hospital at Eoehampton. Of
this number, 882 had availed themselves of the opportunity of train-
ing in the workshops; 818 had been placed by the employment
bureau; 1,309 had returned to their former occupations; 1,016 had
been passed on to local committees for employment; 487 had not
been dealt with for employment, including colonials, those unfit for
work, those discharged for misconduct, or those who refused all
offers of assistance. 29

At this time, those in charge of the vocational work in the hos-
pitals were at a disadvantage in urging the men to accept training
inasumch as the basis upon which pensions were granted was such
that if a main's earning capacity were stimulated through training,
it operated to reduce the amount of his pension. This hardship was

» Ibid., p. 16.





removed by the royal warrant of 1917 which provides that a man's
pension shall be assessed upon the basis of the degree of his physical
disability, and not upon decreased earning capacity.

Maj. Mitchell stated that the object of his paper was to emphasize
the immediate importance of enlisting the services of a large number
of technical institutions throughout the land which were admirably
fitted to afford the disabled men just the kind of training that would
meet the requirements of the localities in which the institutions were
situated. He stated that there were at least 150 technical schools
that could be utilized for training purposes.

A unanimous resolution was passed that the association should do
all in its power to place the resources of the technical institutes at
the disposal of the statutory committee. 30 Accordingly, the follow-
ing questions were sent out to the various schools :

A. How far in your institution are you able to train men for local institu-

B. Will you name these industries?

C. State how many men you could accommodate.

D. In what other direction not herein indicated can you assist.

In the London district a number of institutions were already en-
gaged in this work. More than 50 men with limb amputations, who
had taken training in the workshops of the military hospital at
Eoehampton, had been given further instruction in electrical and
mechanical engineering, lasting a month or six weeks, at the Kegent
Street Polytechnic, and had been placed without difficulty. The
Battersea Polytechnic had trained some 40 men in motor mechanics
and driving. A course in electrical switchboard operating had been
started at the Northampton Polytechnic Institute and the Cord-
wainers' Technical Institute was beginning to train men in shoe-
making and leather work.

The practical results of these technical schools in training dis-
abled soldiers and sailors prepared the way for a wider movement
which took place following the action of the Association of Technical

While the local pensions committees were well qualified to look
after the needs of a man's family, its scope was not wide enough to
make the best provision for his vocational training. The educational
facilities of a wider area than that covered by the local committee
must be syndicated if men of differing disabilities and previous in-
dustrial experiences were to be given the variety of training the cir-
cumstances might demand. Accordingly, in the spring of 1916, joint
advisory committees, made up of representatives of the various local
pension committees and education authorities, were formed to ar-
range comprehensive schemes for utilizing the facilities for technical

"The Daily Mail, London, Oct. 23, 1916.



education within whole counties or groups of counties. There were
22 such joint committees appointed in England and Wales, Scotland,
and Ireland.

In a country like the United States, where technical education is in
its infancy, 150 technical schools seems like a large number. As
early as 1837 Parliament recognized the need of schools of design to
improve the fabrics of its manufactures and voted to establish schools
of design. But these were not very successful and most of the textiles
continued to be patterned after French designs.

The first world's fair, held in London in 1851, bore in upon the con-
sciousness of the English manufacturers the need of training such
artisans as the exhibits of France plainly showed that she possessed.
International competition touched the English pride very deeply.
Belgium felt the same need for trained workmen and sent to England
Chevalier de Cocquiel to make a study of its industries. In his inter-
esting report to the Belgian Government in 1853 this nobleman
credited England's success as an industrial nation to her commercial
skill, rather than to her technical ability, which he considered de-
cidedly inferior to that of the French. 31

Stirred to activity by the achievements of its commercial rival
across the channel, England entered upon a period of development
in trade -training which has resulted in the many technical schools in
all parts of the United Kingdom. In 1889 Parliament passed the
technical instruction act, 32 which authorized local authorities to levy
a rate not to exceed 1 penny in the pound for the purpose of pro-
moting technical instruction in their districts. In 1913 there were
113 institutions in England and Wales in which technical day classes
were recognized and aided by the board of education. 33 The number
of pupils over 18 years of age in these schools was 3,461. To these
day classes must be added a very large number of night classes. The
amount paid by local authorities in aid of these day and night classes
amounts to more than $8,000,000 annually. 34

The task of aligning these facilities for technical education with
the purposes of the Government to afford the disabled soldier and
sailor every opportunity to secure an adequate trade training within
his own district was laid upon the joint advisory committees. The
schemes of some of these joint committees have been published and are
interesting as affording an idea of the scope of vocational education
offered in such highly industrial counties as Lancashire and York-

m Chevalier de Cocquiel, Industrial instruction in England, being a report made to the
Belgian Government.

« 52 and 53 Vict., c. 74.

» Great Britain, Statistical abstract for the United Kingdom, 1900-1914.

34 Great Britain, Statistics of public education in England and Wales, Part II, Finan-
cial statistics, 1910-1911-1912.




Lancashire is the most populous of the English counties, but its
area is not much greater than Long Island. Before the development
of railway transportation factories driven by steam grew up near the
coal fields. Lancashire, with its coal mines, experienced a wonderful
industrial development and contains many of the manufacturing
centers of England. Quite naturally, many technical and trade
schools were established to train skilled artisans.

Early in 1917 the representatives of the local war-pensions com-
mittees, local education authorities, branches of the Red Cross So-
ciety, and Lord Roberts' Memorial Workshops met to formulate a
scheme for the coordination of all plans for the care, training, and
employment of disabled sailors and soldiers within the geographical
county. They expressed the opinion that the Government should
provide, out of imperial funds, the cost of such training, a principle
which was adopted by the ministry of pensions and set forth in the
royal warrant of 1917. Every borough and urban district with a pop-
ulation of over 20,000 had its local war-pensions committee, 42 in all.

A canvas of the institutions under the control of local education
authorities, universities, and special trusts capable of giving training
to disabled men revealed a surprising number of facilities that could
be utilized. The list of facilities with the number of centers in which
instruction might be given is as follows :

A. Agriculture and horticulture, 4.

B. Engineering trades :

1. Workshop processes gener-

ally, 13.

2. Motor mechanics, 5.

3. Engineer in charge (hotels,

etc.), 6.

4. Drafting, 13.

5. Electrical work, 9.

6. Storekeepers, time keepers,

etc., 1.

C. Building and allied trades :

1. General building, 9.

2. Woodworking trades, 20.

3. Plumbing, 16.

4. Painting and decorating, 21.

5. Brickwork and masonry, 4.

6. Plastering, 7.

D. Coal mining, 7.

E. Textile occupations :

1. Cotton-spinning processes, 10.

2. Cotton- weaving processes, 19.

3. Woolen and worsted proc-

esses, 1.

4. Subsidiary processes, 7.
38 Great Britain, Report upon proposed cooperation between war pensions committees,

education authorities, and other bodies in Lancashire. Preston, May 14, 1917.

F. Boot and shoe manufacture, 2.

G. Nautical occupations, 4.

H. Printing and allied trades, 4.
/. Commercial and clerical occupa-
tions, 35.
J. Art and art industries, 20.
K. Miscellaneous :

1. Gas fitting, 3.

2. Instrument making, 3.

3. Basket making, brush mak-

ing, toy making, 9.

4. Boot repairing, 3.

5. Tailoring, 6.

6. Hairdressing, 2.

7. Cooking, domestic service,

etc., 10.

8. Flour milling, 1.

9. Telegraph and telephone op-

erating, 3.

10. Chemical laboratory work, 14.

11. Local inspectors, 5.

12. Library attendants, 3.

13. Shop assistants, 1.

14. Cinema operators, 1.


In all, facilities were offered in some 44 centers. It is not to be
thought that all of the facilities offered by this ambitious scheme
have been utilized. Correspondence with a number of these schools
has elicited the fact that they had not been sent any men for training
as late as last September. One of the reasons. given was that the
demand for labor was so great that many disabled men could find
ready employment without training, a condition that will not obtain
after the war and the disbanding of the army. The principal of
the Municipal Technical School at Rochdale, in a textile district,
writes :

Firms are willing to employ such (disabled) men and prefer to teach them
in their own establishments. The advantage to the man is that he begins wage
earning very soon. The advantage to the firm is that as the training has
probably only given the man a knowledge of one of their own processes, he will
not be qualified for work elsewhere. No grievance, however, has yet arisen
through any firm endeavoring to make any unfair use of this advantage.

It may be questioned whether this fact is not an indictment against
the system of factory training and a potent argument in favor of the
broader training of a technical school Which after-war conditions
will enforce.

The Municipal Technical School at Blackburn has not found it
necessary to start any special classes for disabled men, but has ad-
mitted a few to the regular classes in shorthand and typewriting.
The principal writes that " the soldiers who suffer from considerable
disablements have apparently not yet arrived in the town from the
various government schools such as at Roehampton." The school is
not equipped to give workshop practice such as most of the men
seem to require. Other schools write that so far the number of dis-
abled men has been negligible and they are cared for in the regular
classes. The feeling seems to be that the numbers will increase as
time goes on and the men come to realize the advantages of such
training and that the increase in earning capacity will not affect
their pensions disadvantageously.

The Municipal Technical School at Manchester is confronted with
the difficulty of carrying on its regular work with a depleted staff
and also providing special classes for disabled men. The principal
writes that in some trades it is desirable, if not necessary, that a man
receiving training should have been engaged in that trade in some
capacity before enlistment in order to meet the objections of the
trades-unions. His opinion is that the most promising trades are
such electrical occupations as substation attendants, cinema operators,
and handy men in hotels, printing, carpentering, and cabinet work.

Training in agriculture at the county council farm at Hutton
proved to be so attractive that applications were received from twice
as many candidates as could be accommodated.


The Lancashire and Westmoreland advisory committee writes that
classes in the following subjects have been arranged with the follow-
ing enrollment:

Motor mechanics and driving 21

Agricultural subjects 32

Clerical occupations.- 25

Cinema operators 10

Boot and shoe repairing 15

Sir Harcourt E. Claire, the honorary secretary of the committee,
writes :

At the present time there is not much demand for training because industry
generally is good and most of the partially disabled men go back to their former
ei iployment or other occupations in which there is a demand for labor.


The scheme of the education advisory committee on training dis-
abled men in the county of Yorkshire is not less pretentious than
that of Lancashire. The schedule of training facilities presented in
March, 1917, covers quite the same trades as that of the adjoining
county. They are arranged in the following group with the number
of centers in which they are taught :

10. Art industries, 14.

11. Commercial and clerical occupa-

tions, 10.

12. Local inspectors, 3.

13. Coal mining, 3.

14. Agriculture and horticulture, 2.

15. Nautical occupations, 1.

16. Miscellaneous occupations, 4.

1. Engineering trades, 8.

2. Electrical trades, 6.

3. Textile industries, 8.

4. Chemical industries, 8.

5. Leather industries, 4.

6. Building and allied trades, 10.

7. Printing and allied trades, 7.

8. Furniture trades, 3.

9. Clothing trades, 3.

In all, training is available in 17 centers. Correspondence with
several schools showed that at that time little training had actually
been done, and that was usually in the regular classes of the institu-


It is quite natural that the technical schools in London should have
a large share in the training of disabled men. Mention has been
made of the beginnings of work in four of the London institutes
which should receive further attention.

In the summer of 1915 the Institution of Electrical Engineers, in
cooperation with the education committee of the London County
Council, appointed a joint committee to make arrangements for
classes at the Northampton Polytechnic Institute to train disabled

» Great Britain, Report of education advisory committee on training disabled men
in the county of Yorkshire, Leeds, June 26, 1917.

57710—18 7


men as electrical substation attendants. 37 The committee had a diffi-
culty at first in obtaining candidates for training because of the
prevalent fear among convalescent men that any attempt to improve
their earning capacity would reduce the amount of their pensions.
" The committee has been assured," the report reads, " that this fear
is unfounded, but until public assurances to the contrary are made
by the proper authority and widely disseminated, this difficulty will
have a paralyzing effect on all attempts similar to that of the com-
mittee to help disabled sailors and soldiers by effectively increasing
their earning capacity." That public assurance was given by the
royal warrant of 1917.

A further difficulty experienced by the committee at that time was
the absence of any government grant for maintenance during train-
ing. A voluntary body, known as the Disabled Soldiers' Aid Com-
mittee, provided the necessary maintenance money for board and
lodging. A subcommittee examined the candidates for training.
Men suffering from a nervous breakdown, or who had lost more than
one limb, were rejected. The committee was encouraged in its work
to find that men free from these particular disabilities had been al-
lowed to accept positions with power companies with no increase of
premiums for employers' liability. This policy has been extended
by the insurance companies to cover the employment of disabled
soldiers and sailors in other industries.

The minimum period of training was put at four weeks and the
number of students trained at one time was 20. The course of train-
ing consisted of (a) workshop practice in wiring work and the use
of simple tools; (5) power-house demonstrations, to familiarize the
students with switching gear and running machinery; (c) electrical
and physical laboratory work; (d) class demonstrations in the ele-'
ments of electrical engineering and of simple engineering physics;
(e) the writing of reports upon the demonstrations and on the lab-
oratory work; (/) oral examinations at the end of the course.

The committee also undertook to find positions for the trained
men with the result that the number of applications from employers
exceeds the number of available candidates for positions. The insti-
tute is now prepared to train about 160 men per annum for this elec-
trical substation work.

In the fall of 1915 the Battersea Polytechnic arranged a compre-
hensive scheme for the instruction of disabled soldiers and sailors in
the following courses : s8

"The Institute of Electrical Engineers. Courses at the Northampton Polytechnic
Institute, London, E. C, for training disabled sailors and soldiers as electrical sub-
station attendants, London, Nov. 3, 1916.

38 Battersea Polytechnic. Report on the training of disabled soldiers and sailors,
London, July, 1917,



1. Chemical trades and industries — a course of six weeks to three months
to qualify men to be laboratory assistants. Two men took the course the first

2. Mechanical engineering; courses in training in fitting and turning, and in
pattern making were opened to men previously in the trade, with one trained in
the latter; the courses In motor mechanics, lasting three months, proved very
popular, 100 taking motor mechanics and driving, 6 taking motor-car and agricul-
tural-tractor mechanics and driving, 6 agricultural-tractor mechanics and
driving, in the first session.

3. Electrical engineering; courses for switchboard attendants, two months;
for engineers in charge of small electrical plants, three months; a course In
electrical testing, two months, was taken by 15 men ; a course in writing, two

4. Special courses in sanitary inspection, music, art, and cookery for which
there seem to have been no candidates.

In regard to the physical qualifications for the popular courses
in motor mechanics the principal writes :

The men must have the full use of both hands and arms, but the loss of a
leg below the knee is no great handicap In motor driving, and we are prepared
to take suitable men who have lost a leg above the knee if they wish to be
motor mechanics or garage attendants. We do not, however, object to the loss
of an eye, provided the remaining eye is normal. Any man suffering from seri-
ous heart trouble is not taken if he wishes to be a driver, but only if he desires
to become a motor mechanic or garage attendant. The men have had practically
no trouble in obtaining posts.

Men suffering from shell shock and nervous trouble have been suc-
cessfully trained in electrical testing and switchboard work. Men are
taken who have the partial use of an arm or hand, but one-armed
men are barred. They prefer not to take men who have lost a leg,
but it is -not absolutely disqualifying. No difficulty has been ex-
perienced in finding good positions for the men. In general the dis-
abled men attend classes specially arranged to meet their needs.


There are several schools not already mentioned whose work for
disabled men should be noticed.

The Birmingham Technical School had few trainees when they
undertook this work toward the end of 1916, but the numbers have
been increasing at an embarrassing rate. They have two courses of
training: (1) In the engineering workshops for munition factories —
a type of training that will be mentioned later; and (2) in the elec-
trical department. Candidates for training as munition workers are
usually tried out in evening classes to see if they are capable of doing
the work before admitting them to the regular training department
for munition workers, as the ministry of munitions will not main-
tain a man for such work unless he can be made reasonably fit for
war work in a short time. In August they had 60 students in the


engineering workshops. In the electrical department they had 15
men in training as electrical machine attendants, switchboard op-
erators, electric jointers, etc. Most of the students enter a full-time
day course of about six weeks, but in some cases, owing to the crowded
condition of these courses, they are first tried out in evening classes.
The principal writes:

It is necessary In connection with each approved course to establish some
form of trade advisory committee to properly select disabled men for the course
to insure a steady supply of students to the school and to take a leading part
in placing men in posts after the course has been completed. It is not the
function of a technical school to act as an employment agency; such work
needs an expert knowledge of the trade, which knowledge is only possessed
by men in immediate contact with practice.

The state of training in South Wales may be judged from a letter
from the principal of the Newport Technical Institute, which has
arranged courses in drawing office practice, light woodwork, jewelry,
and commercial subjects. He writes:

The men have been unwilling to come forward, but now that the pension
matter is being put on a firm basis I think that the numbers will be greater.
For your guidance, however, I might say that in the whole of South Wales we
have only had some 20 applications for training up to the present (September,

Online LibraryDouglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrieThe evolution of national systems of vocational reeducation for disabled soldiers and sailors → online text (page 11 of 38)