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NJBIA recently held a virtual Joint Education & Workforce Development and Employment & Labor Policy Committee Meeting with: 

  • Catherine Starghill, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships for the NJ Community Colleges Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development 
  • Jeffrey Oakman, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy 
  • Morganne Dudzinski and Eugene Lepore, the Associate Director and Executive Director (respectively) of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU)  
  • Kyle Sullender, Executive Director of Focus NJ 

. . .

Starghill discussed the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities program and highlighted the increased engagement in their collaboratives, citing the program’s 1,200 industry and educational partners.  

The collaboratives held 20 virtual meetings from February to June, and four in-person meetings in July 2022. Upcoming events include the fall collaborative meetings, which will focus on each Center of Workforce Innovation.  

There will be 10 in-person meetings on community college campuses from Sept. 21 to -Nov. 16.  

Starghill further emphasized the small initiatives that have resulted from the NJ Pathways Program, including:  

  • The New Jersey Workforce in Infrastructure Network (NJWIN), a group of labor unions, employers, and education providers who have come together to serve as a point of contact for workforce development needs that arise due to the funding of infrastructure projects.  
  • The NJ Consortium for Manufacturing Apprenticeships, which has been in discussion with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and would bring together various institutions and the Department to ensure that manufacturing apprenticeships are being maximized throughout the state with hopes that this model will be replicated for all other apprenticeships. 
  • The NJ Accelerating Careers with Education, which will utilize the community college opportunity grant to allow lower-level employees with no degree and earning below a certain income to pursue a pathway to a tuition-free degree. This initiative was piloted with RWJ Barnabas, where it has been highly successful, and the Hackensack Meridian Health system has signed on to join this initiative.  
  • Google has identified NJ employers willing to hire students who successfully earn their certificates through community college. 

  . . .

Oakman discussed the New Jersey Pay It Forward initiative, which launched in mid-August and was developed through a collaboration between the state of New Jersey and the CEO Council with the program design and management support of Social Finance.  

He emphasized the initiative’s goal to address labor market needs and support economic growth by providing low-income students with training opportunities and filling financing gaps to increase student success.  

Oakman added that the initiative is different than traditional grant programs in it’s a no-interest, no-fee structure that allows repayment from successful students to be recycled to finance future cohorts. Students will only make repayments towards their loan if they earn more than $12,000 per year above 150% of the federal poverty level for their household size. Students who do not find a well-paying job are not obligated to repay their loan and after fuve years, the loan is forgiven.  

Pay It Forward launched with three inaugural programs: the HVAC and Welding Programs at the Camden Community College, the Registered Nurse Program at the Hudson County Community College, and the Cybersecurity Bootcamp at NJIT.

. . . 

Dudzinski shared results from NJASCU’s Economic Impact Study (2021), which was created to show the collective value and positive impact NJASCU members have on the state’s economy, as well as highlight the unique contributions and diversity of NJASCU’s members.  

NJASCU members have an economic impact of $6.1 billion, support 36,000 jobs, and generate $220 million in tax revenue for New Jersey, Dudzinski said. He saidfor every $1 million invested in NJASCU members, $16 million in economic activity and support 93 jobs were produced.  

Lepore discussed new initiatives undertaken by NJASCU members such as the prior learning assessment (PLA), which allows course credit for college-level knowledge obtained outside of the classroom (such as the military, volunteer work, workplace training, etc.)  

He further discussed NJ PLAN, a collaborative initiative that expands access to PLA for students throughout New Jersey, who can take a basic 3-credit course in portfolio development and work with a mentor to create a portfolio that demonstrates their knowledge.  

Lepore highlighted Thomas Edison State University, which received a grant to reinvigorate the PLA network, working with partners to provide mentorship to students to help them develop portfolios. Lepore added that he has been in contact with the NJ President’s Council about the Ad Hoc Committee on Workforce Development, which continues to improve collaboration in New Jersey between employers, educational institutions, government agencies and provide workforce development resources and training. 

. . .

Lastly, Kyle Sullender presented Focus NJ’s new workforce development map tool. The map is an interactive and dynamic tool that allows individuals to identify workforce development programs in a particular area of the state or industry of interest. The workforce development map can be found here