WAYNE, N.J., NOVEMBER 20, 2013 – Christie Administration officials today joined representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany in a forum on vocational educational programs and a tour of the Passaic County Institute of Technology to highlight the career possibilities that modern manufacturing poses for New Jersey’s young people.
A roundtable discussion hosted by NJIT and the ManufactureNJ Talent Network in Newark kicked off the day-long event. Representatives from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. touted the success of their nation’s vocational education programs before joining Commissioner Harold J. Wirths of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD), Garden State business leaders and educators in touring the Passaic County Institute of Technology, which has its own successful vocational program.
“We have enlisted New Jersey employers in shaping the skills of our workforce to improve hiring and, in turn, improve the overall economy of the Garden State. We are exploring the German model in which employers are an integral part of the education of technical and vocational school students, helping them to get on-the-job training while in school and improving their prospects for employment upon graduation,” said LWD Commissioner Harold J. Wirths.
The German Embassy, in cooperation with the American Council on Germany, has had a team of three representatives visiting six United States cities, beginning on Nov. 13 with a high school in Fayetteville, GA and culminating today with a stop at NJIT and tour of Passaic County Technical Institute. The visit coincides with efforts underway by the state Labor Department, its ManufactureNJ Talent Network, NJIT, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development and the state Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to get Garden State employers involved in the curriculums of high schools, colleges and other educational institutions.
The goal is to provide students with skills that business owners already have identified as crucial to their success, but currently lacking in the Garden State workforce. The proper training of vocational students not only offers the students strong career possibilities, but also offers employers a labor pool that will help businesses to expand and become more prosperous.
“It’s very exciting to hear about the possibilities of developing manufacturing training programs for New Jersey youth similar to the successful programs in place in Germany. There are many excellent career possibilities in manufacturing in New Jersey and we need to provide skilled workers to meet the needs of our companies here,” said Raymond Vaccari, Director of the ManufactureNJ Talent Network.
The German embassy team included a trainer from U.S.-based German manufacturer Stihl Inc. USA, a trainee in that company’s program and a teacher from Germany. They explained that on-the-job apprenticeships are a typical part of the Germany vocational training system, in which the curriculum is developed by both the private and public sector.
Germany enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in Europe for young people 25 years old and under. While its demographics and culture are much different than the U.S., state Labor Department officials believe aspects of the training model may be utilized successfully in New Jersey.
“We understand the importance of offering this type of vocational training to New Jersey students,” said Deputy Commissioner Fichtner. “The information that we’ve gathered here today is valuable and compliments the Talent Networks we have created. We are open to all ideas that will give New Jersey students and young workers an opportunity to develop skills that will lead to a solid career.”
The Labor Department has created Talent Networks around seven industry clusters in New Jersey to transform the traditional workforce model by treating employers as customers and engaging them to identify the relevant skills that job-seekers need to obtain employment in the state’s most promising industries. The goal of the Talent Networks is to help steer job training programs and the curriculum of educational institutions toward the skills employers have identified as essential.
The seven industry-focused Talent Networks were created around: Health Care; Life Sciences; Transportation, Logistics and Distribution; Advanced Manufacturing; Financial Services; Technology and Entrepreneurship; and Retail, Hospitality and Tourism. An eighth Talent Network, labeled Recovery New Jersey, is focused on addressing the needs of businesses impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
For more information about LWD Talent Networks, go to: http://jobs4jersey.com/jobs4jersey/toolkit/talent/index.html.