Getting the Message on Workforce Education

You know, schools are very parochial.
“We’re gonna– we’re gonna teach what we want to teach you. We’re gonna do it over
here and don’t come in our schools and tell us what to do.” That has changed
because companies are out there saying, “You’re not delivering the 21st century
skills that we need, whether it’s the hardcore technical skills or the
employability skills, the softer skills, the ability to be, you know, self-directed
and teamwork and communication,” right, and so then schools start listening and
saying, “Okay, well, what do we need to do different?” On the technical side, because
of– because of technology, the schools no longer can just be in their academic
world alone, because they can’t keep up with the dynamic changes, because of
technology, so they need business to come in and say, “By the way, here’s the, you
know, here’s the widgets we’re working and building with today. You’re still
teaching these kids how to work and build widgets from five years ago.” So
there’s just this natural need because of all the disruption and fast pace of
change that they have to work more together, but they need somebody to help
facilitate the discussion and, again, business on the other side is always out
there just saying, you know, barking back at the school saying, “You’re not giving
us what we need!” Well then we said to business, “Okay, stop talking about it and
get involved.” I’m looking at Frank because this has gone on for longer than
I’ve been here, you know, and– and business has gotten involved so it’s going to
continue to be a little more, you know, it’s this is like a slow and steady
thing. We’re very encouraged though, you know, our post-secondary task force that
we have, we’ve got everybody on the education side from K-12, community
college, career and technical education, public, private, four-year, we’ve got our
companies at the table, we’ve got nonprofits at the table,
we’ve got millennials at the table and everybody’s having a discussion around
future workforce and we need to do that here in the state of New Jersey. Growing a
job means nothing if we can’t fill it and, as we stand here today, we have tens
of thousands of vacant middle-level skilled jobs in the state of New Jersey
that we need to get working on filling really, really quick.

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