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The new vision for higher education unveiled by the Murphy administration focuses on students with, among other things, a student bill of rights. Businesses long frustrated by entry-level job candidates unprepared for the working world, however, may find a lot to like as well if they dig a little deeper.

Where Opportunity Meets Innovation: A Student-Centered Vision for New Jersey Higher Education was released today at a press conference in Newark by Gov. Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. They said the plan would ensure higher education meets students’ needs and aims to galvanize New Jersey’s innovation economy.

“Today, New Jersey’s great colleges and universities set course to make our state the hub for American innovation and economic opportunity,” Murphy said. “In a knowledge-based global economy, what New Jerseyans know will matter a lot more than who they know.”

“New Jersey is the state of innovation. And higher education is where opportunity meets innovation,” said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. “The plan we release today seeks to ensure that every student, no matter their life circumstances, has the opportunity to obtain a high quality education that prepares them for life after college.”

Among other things, the plan affirms the goal of having 65 percent of adults in New Jersey have a post-secondary degree or industry-valued credential by 2025, an initiative NJBIA has long supported. It also calls for including more instruction in in-demand skills of all students and doing so at an earlier stage in their education. NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, who attended the press conference, noted that part of it falls in line with the Association’s recommendations in its Postsecondary Education Task Force report.

“Many employers relate to us that the next generation workforce lacks technical skills and employability skills such as problem solving, teamwork and self-direction,” Siekerka said. “Skill-building through enhanced capacity at both our K-12 and Career and Technical Education programs, as well as broadened opportunities for experiential learning across the educational spectrum, is a big step in the right direction.”

Murphy also signed an executive order creating a Task Force on New Jersey’s Plan for Higher Education.  The Task Force will be divided into five Working Groups:

1) Creating On-ramps to College;

2) Making College Affordable;

3) Student Success;

4) Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments; and

5) Research, Innovation, and Talent.