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Our View: Education can boost state's future economy

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College could be part of the short-term and long-term solution for the state's economic blues.

The local school, along with all of Wisconsin's technical colleges, could be getting an extra financial boost from the state over the next couple years if Gov. Jim Doyle and Senate Democrats have their way.

It seems like the right approach to take, providing people with a hand up to a higher-paying career rather than just giving them a hand-out of extra unemployment benefits or expanded social service programs.

As part of Doyle's "Grow Wisconsin" initiative, the two-year campuses would receive new money to help train the state's workers for high-demand, emerging occupations.

The Senate Democrat's plan, which they dub "Wisconsin Invests Now," would provide $5 million for an Incentive Grants Program to help technical colleges better prepare students for the changing job market.

An additional $1.3 million in financial aid for students is also part of the package. The aid, if approved, would allow more students to attend a technical college as financial barriers are reduced.

Technical colleges are well suited for the task of economic recovery, as students gain the necessary training in highly-specific, hands-on classes.

The schools historically have worked closely with industry partners to better identify workforce needs, ensuring that when students get the training they want there is greater likelihood that a job will be awaiting them upon graduation.

There's been a lot of debate about how best to stimulate the economy. We think targeted education is the key, as many state officials and industry experts also believe.

We encourage the Legislature and Gov. Doyle to push ahead with plans to boost the effectiveness of the state's 16 technical colleges.

The money appropriated will be well spent, as workers find long-lasting and high-paying jobs in the growing industries that apparently have trouble filling all the positions they have now.