Candidates agree on community college support, CVTC hopeful for future

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - In a debate focused on showing voters their differences, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney actually agreed on the need to support community colleges' cooperation with hiring businesses.

"One of the things I suspect governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they're setting up their training programs," Obama said.

"Oh yeah," Romney said in response. "It’s going over well in my state, by the way."

Doug Olson with Chippewa Valley Technical College said the school has always had those types of connections and is glad to hear of the bipartisan support.

"We tailor our programs and even add new programs or eliminate programs based on that need. Our entire focus is meeting the workforce needs of the businesses in our district," Olson said. "I think both parties really recognize the importance and need for a skilled workforce."

Eau Claire’s Plank Enterprises, a parent company to three manufacturing companies calls CVTC its "lifeline" to find new skilled workers, employing graduates like machinist Cody Pattison.

"I knew that right away that I was going to acquire the skills to find a job," Pattison said. "I need people to come in that I can train and help out, so I don't have to work a crazy amount of overtime and it worked out for me."

"We're in constant interaction with CVTC, both with instructors and administration there as well to share what our needs are in the manufacturing industry," Plank Enterprises President Mike Ottum said. "The real challenge today is trying to find that skilled workforce."

The candidates do differ on how the programs should be funded.