Prieto-led Vocational Education Improvement Bill Package Approved by Assembly

A sweeping vocational education improvement package sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to enhance and expand vocational programs throughout New Jersey was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
The measures are also sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Joseph Lagana, Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver, Mila Jasey, Angelica Jimenez, Eliana Pintor Marin, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo Garcia, Daniel R. Benson, Ralph Caputo, Celeste Riley, Timothy Eustace, Charles Mainor, Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Angel Fuentes.


Prieto had said when he became Assembly Speaker in January that improving vocational education would be one of his top priorities, citing it as key to making sure all New Jersey students are ready for work in today's ever-changing economy.
"While many focus on college without thinking about a technical career, we have to make it clear that there are also many well-paying careers that can be launched with an industry credential or an associate's degree," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "As we work to make sure our economy begins to grow again, employers will look to our county vocational-technical schools to meet this need. We need to make sure our students are ready to go."

A sweeping vocational education improvement package sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to enhance and expand vocational programs throughout New Jersey was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
The measures are also sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Joseph Lagana, Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver, Mila Jasey, Angelica Jimenez, Eliana Pintor Marin, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo Garcia, Daniel R. Benson, Ralph Caputo, Celeste Riley, Timothy Eustace, Charles Mainor, Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Angel Fuentes.


Prieto had said when he became Assembly Speaker in January that improving vocational education would be one of his top priorities, citing it as key to making sure all New Jersey students are ready for work in today's ever-changing economy.
"While many focus on college without thinking about a technical career, we have to make it clear that there are also many well-paying careers that can be launched with an industry credential or an associate's degree," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "As we work to make sure our economy begins to grow again, employers will look to our county vocational-technical schools to meet this need. We need to make sure our students are ready to go."


"Vocational training can lead to apprenticeships and job opportunities in the trades for our youth who otherwise may be unemployed and adding to the state poverty problem," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "Improving vocational education for our next generation is just common sense in today's economy."
The bills:
· A3334 (Prieto/Lagana/Oliver/Jimenez/Pintor Marin) - Require New Jersey school report cards to include indicators of student career readiness, approved XX-XX';
· A3335 (Prieto/Diegnan/Lampitt/Oliver/Garcia) - Require preparation programs for teachers and school counselors to include coursework to support improved student career readiness, approved XX-XX;
· A3337 (Prieto/Jimenez/Lampitt/Benson/Caputo/Oliver) - Establishes four-year county vocational school district facilities partnership grant program; approved XX-XX;
· A3338 (Prieto/Diegnan/Lagana/Riley/Oliver) - Requires all school districts and public colleges to enter into dual enrollment agreements to provide college-level instruction to high school students through courses offered on the college or high school campus, approved XX-XX;
· A3339 (Prieto/Diegnan/Eustace/Mainor/Oliver/Lagana) - Provides that if a career and technical education program of a county vocational school district is taught in an industry setting, the off-site location will be exempt from certain state regulations, approved XX-XX;
· A3340 (Prieto/Jasey/Johnson/Caride/Mosquera) - Provides additional state aid to county vocational school districts in which enrollment increases by more than 10 percent, approved XX-XX; and
· A3341 (Prieto/Diegnan/Johnson/Watson Coleman/Fuentes/Benson) - Provides state aid for adult education programs, approved XX-XX.


"We need to make sure our vocational programs are up-to-date as we position New Jersey for a better future," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This is all about jobs and a stronger economy. We need to take steps such as these to ensure our state is at the cutting edge of educational offerings as our economy changes in the years ahead."
"We cannot rest idle while businesses and jobs change and the global economy becomes even more and more competitive," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "Our students need an array of options to meet their various interests and the needs of today's economy. These bills steer us in the right direction."


"We need to make sure our students are ready to compete in today's marketplace," said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). "Quite simply, this is about ensuring everyone receives an education that fits their needs and ensures they're ready to compete and thrive in our ever-changing economy. Vocational education is vital to our future."

"This is all about jobs," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "Today's economy demands a workforce with varied educational backgrounds and expertise, and New Jersey will be positioned to succeed if we make sure to graduate students with strong vocational education."


"Improving our vocational educational system is key to our state's future," said Garcia (D-Hudson). "We cannot rest easy when the economy is ever-changing and our young people today need a varied set of skills if they're to find good jobs."
"A strong economy requires a strong workforce with the education and skills needed to attract and keep businesses to our state," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This package is a huge step in the right direction toward boosting our economy for years to come."


"A solid vocational education can mean a brighter future for so many New Jerseyans," said Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). "This package will ensure that better future is easier to grasp, and that will benefit everyone."


"Job creation and a strong economy is a top priority, and bills like these must be a part of any effort to make our state more attractive to businesses," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Ensuring our workforce has all the skills and expertise to drive our economy and ensure it remains competitive is a must."


"We need to do more to ensure everyone has the educational options they need," said Mainor (D-Hudson). "This bill package accomplishes that goal, and we'll be better off as a state for it."


"A strong vocational school system is an absolute necessity," said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). "Requiring preparation programs for teachers and school counselors to include coursework to support improved student career readiness is common sense."
"Ideas such as establishing a four-year county vocational school district facilities partnership grant program are the right thing to do in this day and age," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "We need to offer as many educational opportunities as possible."


"We need to do more to ensure vocational education programs are accessible and available as we look to create jobs and revitalize our economy," said Caputo (D-Essex). "This bill package is a huge step in the right direction."


"Concepts such as providing state aid for adult education programs are long overdue," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "We know education is now a lifelong experience, and we need an educational system that can meet that demand."


"All young people need the chance to receive education and career development," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Vocational education and training must be part of that system."


"Vocational educational can play a key role in opening the doors for our young people to obtain skills and talents to the highest levels," said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). "A varied educational system that takes care of all our needs and interests is a must as we create jobs."


"A strong economy requires a strong education system, and a modern and improved vocational education system must be part of that equation," said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "These bills are great news for our economy and educational system."


"We need to focus our efforts on every aspect of the educational system, including job and technical training and adult education," said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). "These bills mean a better economy for our state - and that benefits all."
The bills will now be referred to the Senate.