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Gov. Mike Parson visited Nichols Career Center on Thursday to see everything the students were doing, from baking desserts to lifting a test dummy out of a hospital bed.

Parson said the purpose of visiting Nichols was to make sure the students are "prepared for the workforce of tomorrow." He said he saw students learning many jobs that are in high demand.

"When you see all the different things they're doing in there, I know and the state knows those are high-demand jobs," Parson said. "Almost everything we looked at — whether it's automobile, whether it's carpentry, whether it's health care, whether it's graphic design — all those things are in big demand."

Nichols Career Center in Jefferson City serves 13 area high schools and gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take courses in 12 areas.

Parson said he was impressed with one teacher he spoke to who said she went to a private sector to ask what she needs to teach students to prepare them for the workforce.

"We really want the education community to partner with that private sector and get these kids ready for the workforce," he said. "It's the whole thing we're focusing administration on is really just building up workforce in this state."

The hands-on learning experiences students have at Nichols will prepare them to enter the workforce and give them an advantage over people who don't have that training, Parson said.

"Businesses will recognize what these schools are doing preparing these kids, and they're going to have an opportunity for a job," he said.

Jefferson City School District Superintendent Larry Linthacum said he appreciated Parson visiting Nichols to see what students are working on.

"It was just a great opportunity to showcase some of the great things they're doing here," Linthacum said.

He said there is high demand for what Nichols Career Center offers, as enrollment is increasing.

"We see a need in working with our kids to prepare them for the future and give them opportunities," he said.

After graduating from Nichols Career Center, some students further their education and others go straight into the workforce.

"It's a combination that fluctuates each year, but at the end of the day, they're better prepared when they leave here than when they come, and they've got a trade that they can offer," Linthacum said.

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