Quality career and technical education provides students with the skills they need to launch a successful career and helps ensure that employers will have strong pipeline of skilled and trained employees to hire from, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) said today.
Acting President Melanie Willoughby said the package of bills to support career and technical education heard in the Assembly Education Committee on June 12 is a good start to linking education and work in a meaningful way. Seven of the eight bills were released, as A-3336 was held for discussion only.
“New Jersey needs to further support career and technical education to meet the demands of the 21st Century employers,” Willoughby said. “The eight-bill package will help increase focus on career readiness, expand access to career and technical education opportunities and programs and support multiple pathways to success. Ultimately, career and technical education helps to focus students and provides them with great career pathways, whether they choose to continue onto college or into the workforce.”
“The lack of skilled workers has a direct impact on the productivity of our companies,” Willoughby said. According to a survey of NJBIA manufacturing companies, nearly 75 percent reported that the lack of skilled workers has made it difficult to maintain production levels to meet customer demands. Fifty-one percent stated the shortage of workers with the necessary skills led to slower delivery of products to market.
“Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Education Committee Chairman Patrick Deignan should be commended for their efforts to help create a skilled workforce here in New Jersey,” Willoughby said. “With this legislation, New Jersey’s vocational-technical education system could serve as a model for the nation.”
The legislation would advance the goals of the NJ Employer Coalition for Technical Education, co-founded by NJBIA and the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools to foster partnerships between employers and educators.
The bills in the package:
- A3334, which would require New Jersey School Report Card to include indicators of student career readiness;
- A3335, which would require preparation programs for teachers and school counselors to include coursework to support improved student career readiness;
- A3336, which would authorize the EDA to issue additional $50,000,000 in bonds to provide grants for certain county vocational school district facilities projects and increases debt service district aid percentage for such projects;
- A3337, which would establish a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program in DOE;
- A3338, which would require all school districts and public colleges to enter into dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on college or high school campus;
- A3339, which would provide that if a career and technical education program of a county vocational school district is taught in an industry setting, the off-site location will be exempt from certain state regulations;
- A3340, which would provide additional state school aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10 percent; and
- A3341, which would provide state aid for certain adult education programs.