Workforce Development: It’s All Local, And It’s Everybody’s Business

Training NJ's Workforce

Successful workforce development is easy to talk about, but it’s hard work that requires commitment and close collaboration among employers, schools and training organizations.

At New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical schools, we focus on giving young people the skills and knowledge they need to launch successful, productive careers by getting help from the experts: Employers themselves.

All of our career and technical education programs are developed and continually updated with advice from employers who provide critical guidance about industry needs and the specific skills, technology and attributes required for success.

Our students learn from internships and work-based learning experiences that expose them to employer expectations and real-world situations. We are only able to provide that kind of education and training with the direct, hands-on help provided by thousands of employer partners.

Collaboration with New Jersey’s business community has always been a priority for our schools. And this effort continues to grow, thanks to strong and consistent support from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and a recent legislative initiative to provide state grants to kickstart the development of new career and technical education programs that respond to local workforce needs.

Employer partners have been actively involved in developing these programs and are working closely with schools and students to ensure their success. Here are just a few examples of how New Jersey employers are boosting workforce development in our schools:

In response to the growing focus on advanced manufacturing as a key New Jersey industry, several county vocational-technical schools have launched new programs to expose high school students to automation, design, prototyping, materials science and computer programming – core skills for well-paying careers in this resurgent industry.

In the past few years, companies like Stryker Orthopaedics, Triangle Manufacturing, National Manufacturing, Eastern Millwork, KNF Nueberger, Sandvik Coromant and the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program have helped lead the creation and operation of Bergen’s Applied Technology High School, Mercer’s STEM Academy, Morris’ EDAM (engineering, design and advanced manufacturing) Academy and Hudson’s Design and Fabrication Academy (D-FAB).

Middlesex, Somerset and Burlington counties have also launched new advanced manufacturing programs in the past two years, and Monmouth and Ocean counties are planning to add programs for more students in September – all thanks to the support and involvement from employers who are committed to developing their future workforce.

These new programs offer work-based learning, industry mentors, real-world project experiences and other support from the partner companies. Thanks to partnerships with many colleges and universities, these new programs also enable students to earn college credits for their high school work.

Many of New Jersey’s major healthcare organizations – like Capital Health, Hackensack Meridian Health, Inspira Health Network and Rutgers Health – as well as local providers and pharmaceutical companies, have been involved with county vocational-technical schools for decades. They offer clinical experiences, internships, mentoring and special projects that engage future doctors, caregivers, technicians and researchers in authentic learning experiences that advance and focus students’ career opportunities.

But hospitals don’t employ only healthcare professionals; they need a wide range of people with different skills.

So when Hunterdon County Vocational School District was designing a new computer science and software engineering program, Hunterdon Health Care System stepped forward to help as a major partner.

Everyone knows that automotive technology has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and some of our schools’ most enthusiastic and involved partners are national companies like BMW North America, regional dealerships like Lexus of Cherry Hill and Haldeman Ford, and transport companies like Stout’s Transportation in Trenton.

They all have a great need for qualified technicians to deal with increasingly sophisticated and constantly evolving technology. They know New Jersey county vocational-technical schools are great sources for quality future employees, and they want to make sure that our graduates are well prepared to move seamlessly into their company training programs.

Workforce development is everybody’s business. We can’t just leave it to state officials to get it done. It demands creativity and cooperation among all sectors of New Jersey’s economy.

Career and technical education programs at New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools are dedicated to meeting the need for a pool of well-educated and highly skilled employees. Contact your local county vocational-technical school to learn more about our programs and how, together, we can build our future workforce.

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