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New Jersey’s Community Colleges was included by Harvard University for its “Project on Workforce” and recognized for the colleges’ statewide New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative.

New Jersey was among six states invited to participate in a virtual convening held by Harvard University earlier this week. President of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC), Aaron Fichtner, PhD., and Senior Director, Strategy and Partnerships for NJCCC’s New Jersey Community College Consortium of Workforce and Economic Development, Catherine Fruge’ Starghill, Esq., were among the eight members on “Team New Jersey” during the event.

They highlighted the successes of the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative, led by New Jersey’s Community Colleges and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and funded by the State.

“We were honored to share details on a national level about the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative. We are confident that our approach of breaking down silos to create a statewide education ecosystem connected to industry is needed to produce a highly skilled, innovative workforce,” said Starghill.

Fichtner added, “Our Pathways Initiative aligns education to build an innovative workforce. Our hard work is resonating throughout New Jersey with more than 1,000 industry and education partners since we held our initiative kick-off event in December 2021. We enjoyed sharing details about how we are making this work focused on four key, in-demand industries and are excited about being a model for other states.”

The New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative is an unprecedented collaborative effort to address the rapidly changing needs of employers. Businesses, industry associations, chambers of commerce, labor unions, workforce development boards, state government, community-based organizations, adult literacy training providers, vocational technical school districts, private career schools, 4-year colleges and universities are coming together to provide students and workers with the career pathways they need.

The Pathways Initiative, having the mission to align education to build an innovative workforce, is comprised of four Industry Collaboratives which are statewide inclusive groups of industry leaders and educational partners across the state focused on the four key industries of the state’s economy: (1) Health Services, (2) Infrastructure and Energy, (3) Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, and (4) Technology and Innovation. The Pathways Initiative will expand economic mobility for students and adult learners and drive economic growth for state’s employers. Within those four industry Collaboratives, are ten Centers of Workforce Innovation, which are made possible with more than 1,000 partners.

Harvard University’s “Project on Workforce” launched an initiative with two goals: first, to better understand how some Community Colleges prioritize their workforce mission across the institution and position themselves as key players in their region’s economic development ecosystem; and second, to help spread the lessons from these colleges to leaders in other states.

Using quantitative and qualitative metrics, the “Project on Workforce” identified five exemplary community colleges—Pima, NOVA, Lorain, San Jacinto, and Mississippi Gulf Coast—and recruited five Harvard graduate students to develop detailed case studies documenting the internal policies and practices that enable these institutions to serve their students and their regional industry partners so effectively. “Project on Workforce” then recruited leaders from six states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey—interested in helping their Community Colleges strengthen their focus on workforce development and organized a virtual convening June 28, to share lessons amongst the group.

About the New Jersey Council of County Colleges

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) was created in 1989 to support and promote New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges that now enroll more than 300,000 people each year in credit, non-credit, and workforce development courses at more than 70 campuses throughout the state. More than 200,000 students – over half of all undergraduate students in public colleges and universities in the state – are enrolled at New Jersey’s Community Colleges. The Community Colleges also enroll nearly 100,000 students in non-credit programs and partner with thousands of businesses to meet their training and workforce needs.

The primary goal of New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges is to meet the ever-changing educational needs of our great state’s residents. Today, through more than 1,700 degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit courses and customized workforce training programs, New Jersey Community Colleges are helping more students than ever. Further, equity and access priorities are advanced every day with over half of the total undergraduate enrollment in New Jersey Community Colleges coming from minority and traditionally underrepresented populations.

To learn more about NJCCC and New Jersey’s Community Colleges, go to www.njccc.org. Follow us @NJCommColleges on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to learn more about our latest programs and initiatives.