NEW JERSEY – The Senate Thursday endorsed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho and Senator Linda Greenstein to help ready a new generation of manufacturing workers for the fast-growing industry.
The Manufacturing in Higher Education Act (S-659) would establish a manufacturing career pathway in the state’s county colleges and vocational schools.
“Manufacturers across the state are thriving, but a shortage of qualified, ready-to-work candidates is slowing growth,” said Oroho (R-24). “The industry is ready to hire, and they need help meeting the demand for skilled, capable employees. This bill will introduce a new generation of workers to promising career opportunities and help fill jobs.”
The bill would require the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to support the implementation of the manufacturing career pathway, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education, the Commissioner of Education, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Schools, and representatives of the business community.
The career pathway would be offered through the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative operated by the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce Development.
“Manufacturing is one of the fastest growing industries in New Jersey, and the last few years have underscored how critical this industry is,” said Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “As the industry continues to grow, it is imperative that we ensure that the individuals looking to pursue a manufacturing career are learning the technical skills necessary for them to be prepared for their future. This bill would provide a viable path forward for aspiring manufacturers within our State, filling the skill gaps for employers and expanding these kinds of opportunities in our state.”
The pathway program would include instruction in traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and methods of production including the machinery, technology, tools, and equipment utilized in a wide range of manufacturing industries.
“Too few young people today still consider manufacturing as a viable career option, but they would be missing out on stable, potentially lucrative, long-term employment in a field that is growing anew,” Oroho said. “This pathway program we’re creating has life-changing potential for students who capitalize on the training and available jobs.”
The measure also establishes a $10 million Higher Education Manufacturing Grant Program to create or expand curriculum in manufacturing, manufacturing engineering or advanced manufacturing at public higher education institutions.