SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - A sweeping vocational education improvement package sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) to enhance and expand vocational programs throughout New Jersey was approved in a bi-partisan fashion last month by the Assembly and now head to the Senate.
"Vocational training can lead to apprenticeships and job opportunities in the trades for our youth who otherwise may be unemployed and adding to the state poverty problem," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "Improving vocational education for our next generation is just common sense in today's economy."
Assemblyman Diegnan noted that county vocational-technical school programs are in high demand from employers who need a strong pipeline of highly skilled future workers, and from students and parents who recognize that work-based learning and industry credentials add value to the high school experience. On a statewide average, New Jersey’s county vocational-technical schools receive about 2.5 applications for each available seat.
“Thanks to the vision and leadership of Speaker Prieto, Assembly Education Chair Patrick Diegnan and all the sponsors, these bills will help to address the workforce needs of employers by increasing the state’s focus on career readiness, expanding career and technical education programs, and providing multiple pathways for students to achieve career success,” said New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools Executive Director Judy Savage.
The bills approved last month respond to many recommendations of the NJ Employer Coalition for Technical Education, launched earlier this year under the leadership of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
“The more than 175 members of this coalition – representing New Jersey businesses of all types and sizes, labor organizations, trade associations and policy makers – stepped forward to say that technical education is essential in order to prepare a career-ready workforce,” Savage said. “We appreciate the strong support of New Jersey’s business community and look forward to engaging more employers with our county vocational-technical schools.”
The bills approved last month include:
• A3334, which requires the New Jersey School Report Card to include indicators of student career readiness.
• A3335, which requires teacher and school counselor preparation programs to include coursework to support improved student career readiness.
• A3337, which establishes a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program in DOE.
• A3338, which encourages dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on the college or high school campus
• A3339, which clarifies that a career and technical education program taught in an industry setting is not subject to school facilities regulations.
• A3340, which provides additional State aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10
• A3341, which restores state aid for adult high school and adult vocational training programs.
New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts serve approximately 32,500 secondary students in full-time and part-time programs that prepare all types of students for college and careers.
Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr.
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