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Leaders of career training schools say private postsecondary education institutions need access to the same COVID-19 related support from the state if New Jersey is to meet its goal of having 65% of its workforce earn a nationally recognized credential or college degree by 2025. 

“These times have been and continue to be challenging for the students and staff in the postsecondary and higher education sector,” ACI Medical and Dental School President Frank Preston said during a recent New Jersey Business Coalition Town Hall meeting. 

“As many of you know the Department of Labor is striving to have 65% of the adult population hold a national recognized credential, a two-year degree, or a four-year degree,” Preston said. 

“To accomplish this lofty goal (amid) the increased unemployment rate, we need equal access to resources and support for all post-secondary institutions that are educating the citizens of New Jersey in addition to the nonprofit and state schools, Preston said. “We are in a state crisis and we need all quality postsecondary schools working smart to optimize our outcomes.” 

Private post-secondary education institutions that are following all federal safety guidelines related to COVID-19 also need protection from frivolous litigation, which is costly to defend against and drains the financial resources of schools that have done nothing wrong, he said. 

The ongoing pandemic has required ACI Medical and Dental to switch from a brick-and-mortar school environment to hybrid model with distance learning, Preston said. This has been a huge adjustment for ACI, just as it has been for the entire postsecondary education sector, he said. 

“As we move forward with the day-to-day ongoing adjustments to COVID-19, it’s important that we are mindful of the psychological toll and needs of both the students and staff and establish resources that can assist with addressing the additional stress and anxiety,” he said. “All post-secondary schools need to continue to work together.” 

The New Jersey Business Coalition’s “State of New Jersey Business” online town hall on Jan. 11 provided an opportunity for business owners and coalition members to discuss the current and future needs of the business community. More than 150 people attended the virtual event, including a dozen state legislators and administration officials who were also on the call.   

To hear Preston’s entire remarks, go here or click on the video below.