Plans to bring extended vocational-technical training opportunities to Lawrence finally seem to be taking shape.
Lawrence school district officials last week outlined plans to partner with Johnson County Community College to provide classes here beginning in the fall. Details, such as the cost of classes for local students and where classes will be taught, remain to be worked out, but the partnership with JCCC is a very positive step for the community.
Lawrence students have long been able to earn Kansas University credit for advanced placement classes offered in local high schools, but, as a major research university, KU isn't equipped to provide technical training to students who don't intend to pursue four-year degrees.
By contrast, JCCC offers more than 50 one- and two-year career and certificate programs that directly prepare students to enter the job market. In many cases, these are well-paying jobs, at which local residents could make a good living and contribute to the local economy.
Preliminary plans are for JCCC to offer a health care class in Lawrence next fall. School district officials hope the program will expand to include computer technology and culinary arts.
The possibilities of this partnership are great. Having a JCCC presence in Lawrence could open the door for many adults to take classes and receive training that allow them to advance or change their careers and improve their earning power. There's also the potential for JCCC to offer specialized training tailored to the needs of local businesses. That not only benefits students, but helps guarantee the high-quality work force that businesses considering a Lawrence location are looking for.
Especially with rising gasoline prices, the convenience of having such programs available in Lawrence would be a major benefit for local residents.
The issue of providing expanded vo-tech training has been kicked around in Lawrence for many years. Many of our youngsters go on to college and successful professional careers, but many others have decided a college degree isn't for them. They nonetheless deserve better than a low-wage, unskilled job with little or no room for advancement. The fledgling partnership with JCCC has the potential to grow into a major program that will benefit local employees, local employers and the local economy.