More than a dozen high school students learned first-hand about career opportunities in New Jersey’s advanced manufacturing industry during the first in a series of free field trips to Ocean County manufacturing facilities organized by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS). The program is designed to increase awareness and interest in a growing sector contending with a lack of young, qualified workers while educating New Jersey students about the various career paths available in advanced manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is a growing industry here in New Jersey that provides good-paying, stable jobs and it is important that young people understand the opportunities available to them,” said OCVTS Superintendent Karen Homiek. “Providing this hands-on learning opportunity is an important way to show students the career options available right here in our community and provide the workforce New Jersey’s manufacturing sector needs to grow.”
The field trip program is part of the NJEDA’s Advanced Manufacturing Student Outreach Pilot, a series of initiatives developed to improve perceptions of and address misconceptions about the advanced manufacturing industry while exposing students to the many career pathways available in the sector. The free trips teach middle and high school students about career opportunities in advanced manufacturing and the skills required to succeed in the sector. Through the program, students from varied socio-economic backgrounds have the opportunity to attend the field trips, especially students from Ocean County municipalities that are designated as Opportunity Zones under the federal Opportunity Zone program.
The students who attended the June 7 trip visited three Ocean County-based advanced manufacturing facilities: NAVAIR, which produces and maintains aircraft, weapons, and other systems used by America’s Navy and the Marines; Jesel, a leading producer of valvetrain products used in NASCAR racers and other vehicles; and UNEX, a manufacturer of conveyer belts and tracks for production facilities. At each stop, students had the opportunity to see high-tech manufacturing equipment in action, learn about the variety of opportunities available in the sector, and talk with employees about their experiences working in advanced manufacturing.
“Governor Murphy’s comprehensive plan for building a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy places special emphasis on high-wage, high-growth sectors like advanced manufacturing,”” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The field trip program provides students with information to consider advanced manufacturing as a viable path to a successful career, while helping to build interest among a potential workforce that could serve as the foundation the industry’s continued growth.”
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