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Raritan Valley Community College hosted the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities – Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management Collaborative Meeting on Sept. 21, celebrating RVCC’s—and all of NJ’s community colleges’—commitment to workforce training.

The New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative was established by the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association to better align education to in-demand careers that provide pathways for individuals, economic mobility, and economic growth for the State of New Jersey.

Aligning education to build an innovative workforce brings together employers, industry associations, labor unions, education institutions, and workforce development partners to provide students and workers with the education and career pathways they need to find new careers and opportunities. The collaborative training will lead to careers that offer a competitive wage and ensure that employers have access to a highly skilled workforce.

The Manufacturing and Supply Chain Collaborative is one of four such Collaboratives as part of the Pathways project, which also includes Collaboratives focusing on Health Services, Technology and Innovation, and Infrastructure and Energy. The Collaboratives are supported by 10 Centers of Workforce Innovation around the state, with RVCC acting as the lead community college for the new Center of Workforce Innovation for Advanced Manufacturing. RVCC is also a community partner for the Center of Workforce Innovation for Cybersecurity.

“RVCC’s leadership role in this exciting New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative exemplifies the college’s commitment to our highly regarded Advanced Manufacturing program and our ongoing efforts training highly qualified workers to satisfy industry needs. It is also a testament to the success of the program and its graduates, over 90% of whom have gained employment in manufacturing fields, with 100% of the class of 2022 securing job placement,” said RVCC President Michael J. McDonough.

RVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing graduates are in great demand and valued by area employers, who praise both the students and the program. “With the RVCC Advance Manufacturing program in place, we now have a partner in finding qualified individuals who are serious about entering into the machining trades. [With] the knowledge our eight graduates received, coupled with the training that Triad Tool provides, the graduates were able to develop into valued employees. We are optimistic for the future of our trade now that a program such as this exists,” said Fred Carden, director of Engineering, Triad Tool.

Advanced Manufacturing is just one of the programs housed in RVCC’s Workforce Training Center (WTC) that provides hands-on learning designed to better serve the community’s economic and employment needs. The state-of-the art, 47,000 square-foot facility offers all of the career training programs under one roof: Automotive Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Environmental Control Technology, and Commercial Energy Management Technology.

RVCC’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs have been such a success that the College needs to expand its physical space in order to accommodate the growing number of high school and college students interested in receiving training at RVCC, as well as employer needs. To fulfill its mission and to provide training that matches in-demand employment, the College plans to strengthen its partnerships with industry and with other institutions to offer students training in those areas that will lead them to well-paying jobs and advancement on their career path.

Through the State of New Jersey’s Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, RVCC is poised to receive a $5.33 million grant that will enable the college to expand the WTC footprint and develop programs and credentials that will support regional employment and economic development. RVCC’s WTC expansion will help produce the next generation of skilled workers through the creation of seamless education, work-based learning, and multiple career pathways.

The grant will help RVCC strengthen its industry training in manufacturing and other areas to satisfy regional employer needs. This includes manufacturing in the life-science industry, as well as the growing area of aseptic manufacturing. The college plans to add a number of manufacturing training programs in the future, including: Precision Manufacturing and Quality Control, Materials Testing Laboratory, Mechatronics and Robotics, Clean Room Technologies for participation in the Life Science and Food Science industries, 3-D Printing using Alternative Materials, and Welding (Tig and Arc Welding).

“The college is committed to keeping up with the changes in manufacturing in order to provide the necessary training to prepare skilled workers to fill employers’ current and future needs,” added Dr. McDonough.

Expanding RVCC’s WTC facility with a clean room for aseptic manufacturing—which is necessary for the production, manufacturing and dissemination of medications, vaccines, and medical devices—would offer training opportunities for students in this rapidly expanding industry. Adding a Mechatronics curriculum would assist the growing demand for technicians with an understanding of how mechanics, electronics, pneumatics, computers, and control circuitry are integrated.

RVCC also plans to use the grant funds to expand its Automotive program, as new innovations and technological advancements are increasing the demand for automotive certification programs to include servicing electric vehicles. RVCC’s expansive Automotive program, which includes collaborations with area high schools, requires resources such as additional dedicated space and improved technology to further enhance the college’s course offerings. To meet the region’s existing and anticipated automotive service needs, RVCC’s Automotive program requires a significant investment in electric vehicle technology.

The new funds will enable RVCC to respond to student need for innovative and flexible educational programs, business and industry requirements for upskilling incumbent workers, and will help fill the talent pipeline for entry-level employees. Along with providing a state-of-the-art facility, RVCC plans to develop multiple educational pathways for students, offering them stackable credentials, new program offerings, and enhanced technical skills.

To learn more about RVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing program, contact Conrad Mercurius at conrad.mercurius@raritanval.edu or visit https://www.raritanval.edu/career-training/career-training-programs/advanced-manufacturing. For information about all of RVCC’s career training programs, visit https://www.raritanval.edu/career-training/career-training-programs.

RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.