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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Vocational, training programs provide bright spots for colleges

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Monday, December 18, 2023   

While some college programs struggle to bring students back to the classroom, vocational and training programs are becoming a more important part of higher education.

Lower Columbia College in southwest Washington is looking to the Legislature to fund its new Center for Vocational and Transitional Studies building in the upcoming session.

The new building will house welding, fabrication and machining. Nolan Wheeler, vice president for administration with the college, said these are critical areas of education.

"Everything relies on machining, everything in our life, right?" said Wheeler. "Cars we drive, the food we eat goes through something that's been manufactured -- and particularly here in Southwest Washington, manufacturing's always been a vital part of our economic success."

The estimated cost for the new building is nearly $43 million.

While colleges and universities have seen a decline in enrollment - the construction trades, for instance - saw a 6.2% increase between 2020 and 2022, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Wheeler said the new building is needed for his college.

"It's going to be wonderful to have updated, modern space for our students," said Wheeler, "which will allow us to better serve our service district, including the local employers."

The new facility at Lower Columbia College will also include the headquarters for the college and career-preparation and information-technology programs.




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