(TRENTON) – Interest in expanding vocational and job-ready skills has been growing over the past few years, but a majority of educational courses are fostered toward more traditional, academic courses. Thousands of jobs have been opening in advanced manufacturing, construction management, healthcare and many other skill based occupations. The issue is that many students graduating are not technically trained or skilled workers, and they lack the qualifications for the jobs that they desire. To ensure that students are receiving the education they need for future employment, Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, John Armato, Annette Quijano and Angela McKnight sponsor a measure providing project grants under the “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” for career and technical education expansions in county colleges. The measure was passed by the full Assembly on Monday 72-0.
“We need to expand our educational programs surrounding vocational and job-ready skills,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “There is a great demand for technically-trained and skilled workers in New Jersey, but not enough students are graduating with the expertise and skills required. We need to educate students on their projected fields of work and help them become employed.”
The bill (A-5888) would appropriate a total of $26,456,996 from the “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund”. Under the bill, the money would be appropriated for career and technical education expansion in the State’s county vocational school districts. The measure also appropriates $500,000 to the Department of Education for the administration of the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act”.
“Students need to be given the ability to train in subjects that encompass the future needs of business in our communities,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “This is not an overnight process, and a great deal of funding is required to ensure that those attending county colleges receive the tools and proper education for successful futures.”
“This initiative will go a long way toward enabling New Jersey residents to obtain employment in their own communities,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Many graduates are employed in occupations separate from the diplomas they received in college. We need to give people the expertise to graduate and make an immediate impact in the workforce.”
The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education has articulated details of the initiative, including the process by which grants will be evaluated, eligibility criteria, viable proposed efforts by prospective applicants, and how funds would be distributed upon awarding of a grant.
Eligible Initiatives would include:
- Renovation of existing square footage to increase program enrollment;
- Construction of new buildings or additions to increase program enrollment;
- Physical plant upgrades required to support the conversion of existing space to support career and technical education programs, or a building addition that expands career and technical education program enrollment;
- Purchase and installation of furniture and equipment, including technology, in new or renovated spaces;
- Improvements of sites associated with career and technical education programs; and
- Demolition of buildings, or portions of buildings, to accommodate new construction that would increase the number of students enrolled in career and technical education programs.
“Creating a focus on specialized training will greatly benefit many students in New Jersey who are pursuing careers in skilled jobs,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Ultimately, this initiative will allow the State to more effectively educate people in their respective interests and help create more employment opportunities.”
The measure now heads to the Senate.