(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. on Monday unveiled an 8-bill package to improve and expand New Jersey’s vocational school programs, citing it as key to making sure all New Jersey students are ready for work in today’s ever-changing economy.
Prieto had said when he became Assembly Speaker in January that improving vocational education would be one of his top priorities.
“While many focus on college and do not think about a technical career, we must make it clear that there are also many well-paying careers that can be launched with an industry credential or an associate’s degree,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “As our economy begins to grow again, employers will look to our county vocational-technical schools to meet this need, and we need to make sure our students are ready to go.”
“Vocational training can lead to apprenticeships and job opportunities in the trades for our youth who otherwise may be unemployed and adding to the poverty problem,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Improving vocational education for our next generation is common sense in today’s economy.”
· Require New Jersey school report cards to include indicators of student career readiness;
· Require preparation programs for teachers and school counselors to include coursework to support improved student career readiness;
· Authorizes the Economic Development Authority to issue an additional $50 million in bonds to provide grants for county vocational school district facilities projects;
· Establishes four-year county vocational school district facilities partnership grant program;
· Requires 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 the college or high school campus;
· Provides 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;
· Provides additional state aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10 percent; and
· Provides state aid for adult education programs
Prieto said he expects the bills to be heard by the Assembly Education Committee in the coming weeks.