The expansion of Johnson County Community College course offerings in Lawrence is good news.
Advertisements in the Journal-World this week list 10 classes that will be offered this fall by JCCC at Centennial School, which now houses the Lawrence Virtual School. The classes are geared toward opening new job opportunities for local residents. The offerings include basic math courses and a workplace skills class along with more specialized courses in health care and manufacturing skills. Other classes allow students to learn more about alternative energy production and commercial crop production.
Some classes help support the new Douglas County Manufacturing Certificate program organized by Heartland Works, JCCC, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, the Lawrence and Eudora school districts, Sauer-Danfoss and Berry Plastics. Participants in the program can take JCCC classes offered in Lawrence while working part-time as interns in participating businesses. Federal funding pays their tuition and the chamber picks up the cost of books. The program is a tangible example of how JCCC's presence in Lawrence contributes to local workforce development.
For many years, Lawrence has struggled to provide post-secondary training options for students who choose not to pursue a university degree. Kansas University is the state's largest and most complete research university, but its mission doesn't extend to the kind of vocational training that many students need to prepare themselves for the job market.
JCCC has been a popular place for local people to seek such training, but even the short commute to Johnson County could be a roadblock for some students. The ability to take classes for college credit right here in Lawrence is a tremendous advantage.
After many years of discussions, JCCC began offering classes in Lawrence at the beginning of this year. Enrollment has been strong, and the school's Web site indicates many of this fall's classes already are half filled. It's great to see the school's offerings have expanded so quickly to include training that can start preparing students for careers in such high-demand fields health care and manufacturing.
Lawrence's partnership with JCCC was long overdue. It is a welcome addition to the city's education picture that should be expanded in the years to come.