Vote ‘Yes’ on Ballot Question 1

Report to Members

NJBIA-Michele_SiekerkaNew Jersey has a critical skills gap that has left tens of thousands of good-paying jobs unfilled because the demand for career and technical education far exceeds available class space for interested students. 

On Nov. 6, voters can help rectify this by supporting a solution that opens up new opportunities and career pathways for the thousands of high school students and adults seeking the industry-valued credentials and degrees needed to advance in today’s workforce.

The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act will provide $350 million to provide much-needed expansion of career and technical programs at county vocational-technical schools, and upgrade security at New Jersey schools. Another $50 million will go toward career and technical education (CTE) projects at county colleges.

Why is this capital investment so important?

In New Jersey, we now see an overabundance of unfilled technical jobs. These are good-paying, career-oriented jobs that are left vacant because we lack a technically trained workforce. If we bring greater investment to our county vocational schools and colleges, we will be able to prepare more young people with the skills, certifications and degrees they need to fill these critical jobs.

Demand is already growing for these educational opportunities that prepare young people for well-paying careers that can be launched without a four-year college degree, and the high cost for parents and young adults and the student-loan debt that comes with it. 

Unfortunately, in 2017, New Jersey county vo-tech schools had to turn away nearly 17,000 applicants because there was not enough capacity at these schools to teach them. On average, county vo-tech high schools receive 2.3 applications for every available seat.

Investment in vocational-technical schools and the expansion of career-focused programs in New Jersey’s county colleges will prepare more people for the rapidly changing careers in some key sectors of the state.

It’s important to remember that technology-driven career programs are expensive. If we can further invest in CTE facilities as a county-wide service, it will enable colleges and vocational schools to expand their partnerships to better ensure a more strategic and cohesive use of resources for high school and adult students.

The CTE portion of the bond money will be used to expand and equip labs and facilities for high-demand programs that address New Jersey’s skills gap in important industries like manufacturing, logistics and distribution, auto technology, aviation and drone technology, medical technology, welding, construction and clean energy. 

A priority will be placed on programs with strong industry and college partnerships that prepare people for in-demand career pathways, and help them earn industry credentials and credits toward college degrees. The grants from the bond act fund would pay for 75 percent of the cost of approved projects at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges. The counties in which the approved projects are located will fund the remaining 25 percent of the cost.

The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act legislation had bipartisan sponsorship and support. With voter approval of the referendum on Election Day, New Jersey can give students the opportunity to access the education and the hands-on, real-world training they need to succeed. Passage of this bond act will give New Jersey a chance to strengthen our workforce pipeline and give our companies another reason to expand in-state. 

With such a strong return on crucial investment, we urge you to vote ‘Yes’ on Ballot Question No. 1.


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