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Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland, hears testimony during the Senate Environment Committee.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would offer students at vocational schools and county colleges a manufacturing career pathway was approved today by the full Senate.

“Manufacturing industries are in need of talented workers that can help advance the industry,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “By creating a career program for young people and adults interested in the field, we will increase the number of skilled workers while creating future employment opportunities for our residents.”

The bill, S-1970, would require the Secretary of Higher Education to design a manufacturing career program that can provide students with the skills necessary to gain employment in the manufacturing sector. As part of a larger initiative to spur economic growth in New Jersey, the career pathway will provide lessons in traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and methods of production including machinery, technology, tools, and equipment. The Secretary will work in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, and the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Schools along with representatives from the business community.

Last year, the Manufacturing Institute in partnership with Accenture, an organization providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services, found that 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers are experiencing a shortage of skilled applicants for production positions. Under the bill, students studying through the career pathway program would gain the needed resources to qualify for similar positions and ultimately create a pipeline in which qualified applicants are trained for the manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors in New Jersey.

“It is especially important that we look toward a comprehensive educational program that will yield qualified workers for New Jersey’s manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “This program will help to prepare students for the high demand field which is critical to the growth of New Jersey’s economy.”

The bill was approved with a vote of 38-0. It now heads to the Assembly pending further consideration.

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