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Thomas Von Tersch is a student in Metropolitan Community College's auto technology program at the college's South Omaha campus. 

Americans’ cars are getting smarter and more complex — and more challenging for mechanics. In fact, the more appropriate term for what were once called “grease monkeys” is automotive “technicians,” since diagnosing a modern vehicle’s ailments now requires an impressive understanding of technology, including computers.

The demand for those technicians is strong, but the supply is falling short, both nationally and in the Midlands. Coast to coast, more than 25,000 openings in the field are projected to open up over the next three years. It’s crucial to strengthen worker training to help meet the demand — to serve customers’ and businesses’ needs. Such training also prepares workers for well-paying jobs.

In the Omaha area, Metropolitan Community College is commendably stepping forward to help meet the need. The college plans to invest $32.5 million into a new building on its South Omaha campus for its auto technology and auto collision programs. Private donations are expected to cover about half the cost.

This move by Metro will complement its collaborative effort with local business and industry to boost advanced manufacturing and technical training at the college’s Fort Omaha campus. Metro’s automotive training initiative at the South Omaha campus similarly is in cooperation with local business, to ensure that the training is directly relevant to real-world needs.

Such forward-looking strategic efforts can bring enormous long-term benefit to the Omaha area, boosting the regional economy as well as the financial prospects of the graduates.

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