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Editorial: You've graduated: Let lifelong learning begin

The economy appears to be on the rebound, at last reaching the steady employment numbers of 10 years ago — before the Great Recession swelled the ranks of the jobless.

The return of unemployment rates under 4 percent for Minnesota and Wisconsin residents with college educations should have people feeling cautiously optimistic.

Businesses, restaurants and manufacturers are hiring. In fact, many local firms can't get enough good workers. "Hiring now" banners fluttering in the wind and "help wanted" signs posted or painted on windows are just about anywhere you look.

This is good news for the class of 2017.

Those young adults who earned their high school diplomas in recent weeks can expect to find a job, whether for the summer or their foreseeable future. Those who earned a technical college certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree can feel confident of finding quality, satisfying work.

There's a risk in this environment, however, that some young people will take the low-hanging fruit and not pursue further education, seeking out on-the-job training opportunities, enrolling at least part-time at Minnesota State College Southeast, nearby University of Wisconsin-River Falls or adventuring off to some other institution of higher learning elsewhere.

Good time and bad times will come. Jobs will change whether through outside forces including technological advancements and supply-and-demand economics — or personal circumstances such as caring for children or aging parent, physical limitations and new interests.

College isn't for everyone. Training and lifelong learning, however, should be. We hope each and every 2017 graduate will take that lesson, if nothing else, with them. In that way they can help craft a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities.

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