TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Higher Education Committee on Thursday advanced legislation to prepare students for future jobs in the manufacturing industry. The “Manufacturing in Higher Education Act,” sponsored by Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Brandon Umba, would create and promote programs at colleges and county vocational schools that align with the needs of the industry.
“Providing students with a pathway to a rewarding and high-paying career while meeting the workforce demands of manufacturers is a win-win,” Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “The importance of New Jersey’s manufacturing industry was magnified when they ramped up production of essential goods during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a vital industry that impacts every resident. This bill allows us to support their growth and train students for the jobs of the future here in the Garden State.”
New Jersey is home to more than 9,000 manufacturing businesses. A 2022 report listed the average wage for the state’s 249,464 manufacturing employees at $97,281. The number of employees jumps to nearly 340,000 residents when including STEM and engineering firms.
“The manufacturing industry touches all 21 counties in the state. From food to medical devices, 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 evolve with the industry and modernize our educational programs.”
The career pathway program will include instruction in both traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and methods of production including machinery, technology, tools and equipment. County colleges, four-year institutions and county vocational schools would be eligible to receive grant money to establish, expand and promote their manufacturing programs.
Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) sponsors the Senate bill (S6590), which passed unanimously in June.