Wagner, Benson & Mosquera Bill to Create Commission to Ensure N.J.’s Schools Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Employers Released
By Mel Fabrikant Friday, February 08, 2013, 06:10 AM EST
Bill Part of Ongoing Assembly Democratic Job Creation Effort
Legislation Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Daniel R. Benson and Gabriela Mosquera sponsored to create a special commission that would identify ways to improve the ability of New Jersey’s schools, colleges and universities to meet the demands of tomorrow’s employers was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill is part of the continuing Assembly Democratic job creation efforts.
“Recent statistics show that by 2020, 66 percent of New Jersey jobs will require a career certificate or college degree but, as of 2011, only 46 percent of New Jersey’s adults had an associate degree or higher, leaving a skills gap of 20 percentage points,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For New Jersey to have a strong economy, New Jersey must have a skilled workforce that meets the needs of key industries, including biopharmaceutical and life sciences, health care, engineering and advanced manufacturing.”
“New Jersey faces a challenge of ensuring its students are college and career ready, so we need to sharpen our focus on key points in the educational system where students might lose momentum toward developing postsecondary skills and aspirations,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We need to get government, the business community, school districts and institutions of higher education together to explore ways to plug leaks in the educational pipeline and ensure a better future for our state.”
“It’s essential to improve the educational environment in our state because we because we know the countries – and states – that do better than us today will best us tomorrow,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Failure to act is a prescription for decline. We cannot sit idly by and let this happen. Let’s have New Jersey reclaim its position at the top of the educational ladder.”
The bill (A-3794) would establish, in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, a New Jersey Workforce Development and Education Commission comprised of four members -- the Commissioner of Education, or a designee; the Secretary of Higher Education, or a designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, or a designee; and a representative of the New Jersey Business Action Center appointed by the Governor.
The commission would oversee the activities of two advisory boards that also would be established, the Education Advisory Board and the Business and Workforce Advisory Board. The commission would, upon review of the boards’ findings, develop a report identifying policies that will improve the ability of the State’s schools and public institutions of higher education to meet the demands of tomorrow’s employers. The commission would submit its report to the Governor, the Senate Higher Education Committee, and the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
The two advisory boards that would be established are the Education Advisory Board comprised of eight members, four of which would be appointed by the Governor, two by the Speaker and two by the Senate President and the Business and Workforce Advisory Board comprised of six members, two of which would be appointed by the Governor, two by the Speaker and two by the Senate President. The Education Advisory Board and the Business and Workforce Advisory Board would serve to advise the New Jersey Workforce Development and Education Commission on means to:
• improve coordination and enhance relations between institutions of higher education, K-12 school districts, and the business community;
• align education and training strategies with employer needs in key industries;
• develop an education and training strategy for key industries based on an understanding of future workforce and skill needs; and
• identify current programs that may be underutilized that could prepare students for jobs in key industries.
The New Jersey Workforce Development and Education Commission, the Education Advisory Board, and the Business and Workforce Advisory Board would expire 30 days after the submission of the commission’s final report.
The bill was released by the Assembly Budget Committee.