By Vin Gopal – The state took an important step in training a workforce that can meet the increasing demand for skilled high-tech workers in manufacturing, energy, construction, and communications as well as provide good-paying jobs.
The governor signed my bill into law to provide project grants under “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund”, which was created by a 2018 bond issue for career and technical education at county vocational school schools. With a line up of massive infrastructure projects in the pipeline for New Jersey, a highly trained workforce that is ready-to-go at a moment’s notice is more important than ever. The grants that “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” will provide important support for the infrastructure initiatives across the region as well as renewable energy programs in the wind and solar fields. They will help put New Jersey in the forefront of the expanding green-energy economy. Advocates and economists predict that solar energy, offshore wind and other renewable energy technologies will bring thousands of good paying jobs and billions of dollars into our state.
The “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” grants also address the need to provide a good future for students who are not interested in a traditional college education. Not everyone is meant to go to college or wants to go to college and the high costs of post secondary education leaves many graduates with huge amounts of student debt.
The “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” grants will provide important support to programs such as NJ Pathways, an initiative recently launched by New Jersey’s Community Colleges and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association designed to align the state’s educational system to build an innovative workforce. Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” grants also will create programs that complement training initiatives and apprenticeships of trade unions, where the use of technology has increased significantly. A few examples, operating engineers need to learn how to operate heavy equipment with GPS controls and run cranes with computers; laborers in the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) must complete 400 hours of classroom training in addition to on-the-job training as part of their apprenticeships.
Not only will these grants create programs to address the skill needs of the future, they will help fill good-paying jobs available today and will help build career pathways in industries such as agriculture, food and natural resources management. More than 77,000 students are on such pathways right now, roughly a fifth of the high school population. So, it’s easy to see how “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” grants are an important investment in our children’s and our state’s future.
On a much more local scale, you can help families in need as they shop for school supplies for their children by donating supplies to my Senate Office Back-to-School drive. On average, families spend about $700 a year for school supplies. You can help families in need in our area by donating notebooks, folders, glue sticks, colored pencils, markers, pens and pencils, rulers, calculators, book sox, binders, highlighters, erasers and other supplies at my Senate Office, at 802 West Park Avenue, Suite 302, in Ocean Township. Drop off your donations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or call my Senate Office at 732-695-3371 to make other arrangements.