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Representatives from Columbus County’s public education and healthcare sectors are all smiles after signing Southeastern Community College’s first apprenticeship agreement, designed to train and retain medical laboratory technicians locally. From left to right: Jonathan Williams, Columbus County Schools assistant superintendent; Marc Whichard, Whiteville City Schools superintendent; Chris English, Southeastern Community College president; and Jason Beck, Columbus Regional Healthcare System CEO. Staff photo by Joseph Williams

Leaders in Columbus County’s public education and healthcare sectors signed an apprenticeship agreement Monday allowing students to do paid hospital work while obtaining their degree.

The program’s goal is to encourage locally trained students to stay and work here in the medical field after finishing their education.