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Community, Technical College Enrollment in WA Plummets During Pandemic [AUDIO]

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Enrollment at Washington state’s community and technical colleges has dropped sharply over the pandemic, and the state hopes it can entice students to return.

Between fall 2019 and 2021, the number of students decreased 24%, a similar trend to states across the country because of COVID-19.

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Jan Yoshiwara, executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said factors such as fewer child care options, job loss or hours cut back at work have hit community and college students especially hard.

“All of those things affect people who financially don’t have much of a cushion,” Yoshiwara pointed out. “That is the bulk of the students that we serve in the community and technical college sector.”

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Yoshiwara also noted about 40% of enrollment is in technical education, which had hands-on training shut down because of the pandemic.

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She noted it is also unfortunate because there are fewer students in higher education just as employers are looking for more workers.

“We have a challenging situation here where our colleges have programs that are ready to turn out more skilled workers into the economy and employers are ready to hire them,” Yoshiwara observed. “But we don’t have enough people enrolling in those programs.”

Yoshiwara emphasized community and technical colleges are avenues for social and economic mobility, but added enrollment numbers are not going to come back on their own.

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“We need to do some work to reach out to people to remove the economic and life-circumstance barriers that people are experiencing right now,” Yoshiwara contended. “Because I don’t think we’re just going to go back to 2019 without us trying some different things.”


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Eric Tegethoff | WNS

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser, and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.

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