New Jersey Legislators Seek Way To Fill Job Demand

The State Senate passed a bill to encourage apprenticeships for high school students.

TRENTON — Not every job requires four or more years of college but applicants do need some training to land them.

Legislation passed by the state Senate April 13 aims to open the door to many who may want to pursue those “middle-skill” positions by way of apprenticeships.

“The hope is that if this bill were to become law that it will be another tool to assist high school students in finding a career path that doesn’t solely entail college as a means to furthering their education and lifetime earning potential,” said Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra.

Singleton and Sen. Ronald Rice, D-28th of Newark, sponsored the legislation to encourage apprenticeship training for high school students.

Today, middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of America’s and New Jersey’s labor market, according to the National Skills Coalition. A range of positions including electricians, paralegals, dental hygienists, and police officers are in the category.

In New Jersey, middle-skill jobs account for 53 percent of the labor market, and demand for filling these positions will continue for years to come, according to the coalition. Analysis done by the coalition found that between 2014-2024 middle-skill careers will make up half of job openings.

Rice said the middle-skill labor market will become increasingly more important over the next decade.

“However, the problem is that New Jersey does not produce enough of these skilled workers as they require a little bit more training after high school,” Rice said. “If we get kids in our schools involved in apprenticeships, this will expose them to learning opportunities and on-the-job experiences. This can be a significant boost in economic stability for many people.”

If passed into law, the legislation would require the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, to develop guidelines for use by high school counselors to coordinate services with representatives of the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council for purposes of encouraging student participation in apprenticeships and raising awareness of apprenticeship opportunities.

“The desired goal is to prepare our children for tracks based on their talents and interests,” Singleton said. “It’s incumbent upon us all to recognize that it’s not a binary choice between college or technical training, and that our nation’s economic future depends on having a robust pipeline of people to follow both tracks.”

The bill, which passed by a 37-0 vote, will now move on to the state’s General Assembly for further consideration.

Original Article