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NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Melanie Willoughby at the Oct. 10 press conference with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Right).

For years, NJBIA has worked with higher education and government officials to create stronger links between learning in the class room and the skills needed in the workplace. Rowan College at Gloucester County is taking that idea to the next level with what it is calling New Jersey’s first “bundled” consortium.

The Rowan Work & Learn Consortium will partner with businesses to provide affordable options for students that also meet employers’ demands for skilled workers.

The plan blends traditional associates and bachelor degree programs with industry-specific certificates to prepare students for careers in one of seven industries where skilled workers are in high demand. The program is designed to be stackable, where earning an industry certification also contributes credits towards an associate’s degree and eventually a BA.

The plan was unveiled at a press conference today with Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Sandra Cunningham, officials from Rowan College at Gloucester County, state government, the business community, educators and Gloucester County.

NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Melanie Willoughby, who participated in the press conference, said the program will benefit students and businesses alike.

“Rowan College has developed a concept directed at one of New Jersey businesses’ biggest challenges—the lack of workers with the technical skills they need,” Willoughby said. “With this program, students can get marketable skills that will provide them with better job opportunities, and employers will have a pool of skilled workers to draw from in the future.”