South Jersey business, educational collaborative on job training may expand

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, who previously supported a

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, who previously supported a "millionaires tax," says changes to U.S. tax policy make it a last resort. (AP file photo)

New Jersey officials are hoping a new bundled program for job training in Gloucester County can be expanded statewide.

The goal is for colleges to create certificate and degree programs tailored to the skills businesses need in their workforce, said Fred Keating, president of Rowan College at Gloucester County.

“We can do it with their guidance, but they must guide us. It’s changing every day,” he said. “In order to keep up with it, you need to be doing it with the people who are literally in the field delivering the products — and what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, and what they want the student to be capable of doing.”

The program coordinates high school vocational training, higher education and work experience so students can build on the credentials needed for the jobs they want.

It’s a model that can transform workplace development and help companies expand, said Tom Bracken, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president.

“If this kind of consortium is put in place in New Jersey throughout the entire state, the issue of a qualified workforce will come off the table from the business community,” he said. “That is an enormous step forward in making the state more competitive.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney said he’ll introduce legislation to encourage other colleges in the state to establish similar programs.

“This is something that should be replicated everywhere,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “But sometimes, you have to push people to do it. And we’re going to do that, requiring this kind of collaboration between institutions that they work together.”

New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks called the program “visionary” and essential to assuring the state is competitive by developing a highly skilled workforce.

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