(Branchburg, NJ) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker joined Raritan Valley Community College President Michael J. McDonough on Thursday, April 27th in hosting a roundtable discussion on fostering the growth of advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) businesses in New Jersey.
“In order for New Jersey to thrive and meet the demands of the 21st-century global economy, we must take advantage of the many new opportunities that breakthroughs in the STEM fields have made available. This requires our state to recognize and understand the needs of the modern workforce and make investments that prepare our residents for high-quality, high-paying jobs,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Innovation has spurred a revitalization in the manufacturing sector that New Jersey must celebrate and support in its effort to remain competitive.”
During the roundtable, representatives from Betar Inc., CompuSecure, McIntosh Industries Inc., Symrise Inc., and UTC Aerospace discussed the importance of workforce development as well as ways to strengthen and support local manufacturing in the state.
“Trained machinists are difficult to find, as we have a 30-year skills gap of training workers. It is great to have community colleges and the state working together and involving manufacturing companies to develop training programs,” said John M. Lohse, president at Betar Inc. “Every company has immediate openings, and trained people can enter the workforce making a sustainable wage in an exciting career.”
“McIntosh Industries has been a proud and grateful employer-partner of the state of New Jersey since the inception of the Community College Consortium and the Advanced Manufacturing Program,” said Sonia Frontera, McIntosh Industries co-owner. “These partnerships result in win-win situations for employers and job seekers and have been a lead source of talent in our competitive market.”
Somerset County Business Partnership President and CEO Michael Kerwin and representatives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Business Action Center also provided insights on how New Jersey can prosper in an innovation economy.
Prior to the roundtable, Zwicker and the other participants were given a tour of RVCC’s workforce training center. The center, which opened last summer, partners with local industry leaders to design a curriculum that prepares students for careers in various sectors, including advanced manufacturing, automotive technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.
“Community colleges in our state are doing their part to train students for success in the new economy, but the extraordinary work happening on their campuses is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Zwicker. “Government has the capacity to invest in research and development, foster public-private partnerships and attract capital investment that will drive long-term economic growth. By cooperating with, and building upon the efforts of, New Jersey’s community colleges, our state can be a pioneer in the innovation economy while also increasing the availability of good jobs that allow people to put food on the table and keep a roof over their families’ heads.”