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Meaningful Workforce Development Starts at NJ’s Vocational-Technical Schools (New Jersey Business Magazine)

August 29, 2023

Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools film instructor Louis Libitz teaches a student the art of cinematography.

Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools film instructor Louis Libitz teaches a student the art of cinematography.

At the heart of workforce development is employee development, and that occurs early on in New Jersey across the 21-county vocational-technical school districts. More than 34,000 high school students benefit from career and technical education (CTE) that not only helps them develop technical skills, but also professional skills.

District programs encourage competencies like problem solving, communication and responsibility by presenting students with real-world projects in their fields of interest.

Customized classroom spaces and instructors with industry experience guide students through focused learning that includes opportunities for work-based learning, accumulation of industry credentials and college credits, and participation in career development contests through student leadership organizations.

The involvement of employers and labor unions is equally important to giving students a head start toward achieving career and college success. Such professional partners provide internships, apprenticeships and other workplace learning opportunities for students. County vocational-technical school districts also rely on these partners, as well as labor market data and regional needs assessments to adjust curricula and program offerings.

Construction is now underway at many schools that received more than $250 million to date in state Career and Technical Education expansion grants, following the 2018 passing of the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act. The projects help meet student demand with added seats and evolving workforce needs with new career programs. Highly anticipated programs that will soon welcome students are those in advanced manufacturing, allied health, cybersecurity, global logistics and supply chain management, and sustainable construction and green technology.

By Jackie Burke, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools

This editorial appeared in New Jersey Business Magazine as part of an August 2023 special edition on workforce development. Read the full series of bylined articles online.

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