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Ensuring all students have career and technical education would be an asset for the Legislature’s efforts to make college more affordable and should play a prominent role in a proposed college readiness commission, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association said yesterday.

A-4088, which would establish a High School to College Readiness Commission to enhance student preparation for post-secondary education, was released Oct. 27 by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Testifying before the committee, NJBIA Director of Technology and Workforce Development Tyler Seville applauded the sponsors for helping make college affordable and urged them to consider the role career and technical education (CTE) can play when preparing students for college.

“A career-ready education is a college-ready education,” Seville said. “While New Jersey has adopted more challenging K-12 standards, we still need to work to ensure educational experiences are both rigorous and relevant. We need to prepare students for both careers and college.

“Career and technical education and pursuing college are not mutually exclusive, explained Seville. “Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers and often outperform them. In fact, study after study shows that these students graduate from high school at higher rates, perform better in college and have better chances for employment after high school.”

New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts have provided the kinds of employer-driven CTE programs that integrate rigorous academic content and technical skills, Seville explained. Newer programs like health sciences, engineering, business and finance, and information technology engage students so they can choose career options and plan post-secondary studies with a clear focus.

“Students flock to CTE programs because these classes put academic knowledge into a real-world context, which in turn help students identify career interests and the continued post-secondary education required for it,” Seville said. “By expanding and replicating these programs, New Jersey will be able to provide more career-focused pathways for students in every high school.”