TRENTON, N.J. – In order to meet the workforce demands of an evolving manufacturing industry and prepare students for successful careers in New Jersey, the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee voted Thursday to advance the “Manufacturing in Higher Education Act,” sponsored by Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Brandon Umba.
“Creating manufacturing career pathways for students in New Jersey helps achieve two goals. One, it ensures there are qualified candidates who can fill manufacturing jobs and two, it stops the brain drain by connecting graduates to high-paying careers in the state,” Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “Two of New Jersey’s greatest economic strengths are our pool of motivated and educated students and growing manufacturing industry. Putting the two together is a win-win.”
The bill establishes a manufacturing career pathway through the New Jersey Community College Consortium’s workforce development initiative, which is a collaboration between industry leaders, employers and education partners. Students will receive instruction in both traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and methods of production including technology, tools and equipment.
“The manufacturing industry touches all 21 counties in the state. From food to machinery, there are employment opportunities in every sector. Ensuring students can find and qualify for these careers is an investment in New Jersey families and our state’s economy,” Umba (R-Burlington) said. “In order to remain competitive and have our students be successful, we have to keep up with the industry and modernize our educational programs.”
Year-over-year, the manufacturing industry in New Jersey grew 4.5%, according to a 2023 report. New Jersey is home to more than 11,000 manufacturing businesses that employ more than 320,000 workers at an average salary of over $97,000. Manufacturing contributed over $59.9 billion to New Jersey’s gross domestic product in 2022. One out of every 14 state residents is employed in the manufacturing industry.
Under the measure, county vocational schools, community colleges, four-year institutions and accredited private institutions would be eligible to receive grant money to establish, expand and promote their manufacturing programs.
Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) sponsors the Senate bill (S659).