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About 50 leaders in the Infrastructure and Energy Industry gathered this week for the in-person “NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities: Infrastructure and Energy Meeting” at the Business and Corporate Center at Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) in Sewell, which was organized by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC).

The Infrastructure and Energy event was led by Stephanie Staub, Director, Infrastructure and Energy Sectors Strategy and Workforce Partnerships at NJCCC.

It included a presentation by RCSJ about its Construction Programs, an overview of Hudson County Community College’s Construction Management Program, Pathways of the Center of Workforce Innovation for Construction, an industry panel discussion, and a New Jersey Community College student testimonial.

“I wanted to change my career. I was studying biology, but I really wanted construction management. I was working at a construction company, and I loved it! I was told that’s not a career for women, it’s only for a man. I thought you know what, I’m going to change that,” said Erika Aguilar, a current Hudson County Community College student and single mother of two.

“I am now studying Construction Management and working as a full-time construction inspector in New York City. I thank my professor for believing in me before I even believed in myself.”

On the panel were Jason Cardenosa, Director, Talent and Employees Services with J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc., Jenn Thoman, Chief Academic Officer with Operating Engineers 825, and Kathyryn Zielinski, Business Support Specialist – Clean Energy Jobs Program with PSE&G, Renewables and Energy Solutions.

“Our NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative is moving full steam ahead and now has more than 1,200 industry and education partners statewide to align education to the workforce needs of industry,” said Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., NJCCC President.

“Our goal with these weekly collaborative meetings is to share critical workforce and education information with all of the stakeholders. This is an enormous undertaking, but together we are breaking unprecedented ground and changing the education model to take New Jersey’s economy to the next level,”

NJCCC thanked RCSJ President Dr. Frederick Keating for welcoming the crowd, hosting the event, and sharing his insightful knowledge about pathway development.

The mission of The New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative, led by New Jersey’s Community Colleges and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, is to align education to build an innovative workforce.

It 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 employers.

At each of the four Industry Collaborative meetings, NJCCC brings together industry and education partners from across the state and sectors to share labor market intelligence, as well as discuss other key topics regarding workforce development and education issues.

The Pathways Initiative is creating a connected education ecosystem to industry and has more than 1,200 industry and education partners since its kick-off in December 2021. More details are available at njpathways.org.