Last fall, Ocean County Vocational Technical School launched a two-year heavy equipment operator program for high school students. Only the second such program in the state, the enthusiastic response from industry partners validated the need for this targeted training program and others.
Two industry partners of the OCVTS extended the learning throughout the summer with on-the-job training for HEOP students. Such experiences are beneficial for students, schools and employers.
“These kids have an advantage, so we want to invest in them,” said Thomas Eosso, whose family business, Eosso Brothers Paving, hosted four of the students this summer. “Our mindset is that we give them a good and valuable experience and that they will stay with us.”
Michael Earle, President of Earle Residential-Commercial, hired three OCVTS HEOP students to work with his team part-time this summer. Earle was one of the early supporters of HEOP at OCVTS, providing a match for the grants that helped get the program started with the purchase of simulators for early training.
“Our industry should continue to look for ways to partner with vocational and technical schools to create solutions to our workforce needs,” said Earle. “(Employers should) be proactive and involved in helping the younger generation discover their interests, develop their skills and create successful careers. “
Another OCVTS partner has already taken these proactive steps to be part of the solution in their industry. John Schleicher, owner of Jersey Shore Plumbing & Design, has volunteered to serve on an advisory committee for a new plumbing program starting this fall. As he and other industry representatives shared their frustrations at finding qualified employees, he became increasingly invested in the success of the program. He applied to become a program instructor and got the job.
“We used to have a plumbing program, but it ended over five years ago due to declining enrollment,” said OCVTS Curriculum Director Gary MacDonald. “Our partners in the plumbing industry have helped revive it by emphasizing the need for this type of training; they said no one is about to take over when the current employees leave. With a clear path from program to career, we have been successful in promoting the program and have a strong enrollment of 20 students starting with us in the fall.
Just south of the OCVTS at Cape May County Technical Schools, two new post-secondary programs will meet the labor demands identified by industry advisers in that district. Post-secondary carpentry and property management and post-secondary aluminum welding fabrication are both based on offerings from Cape May Tech high schools, but with additional training deemed invaluable to those doing business in the resort communities of the county.
“By integrating property management with carpentry, we are meeting our regional workforce needs,” said Nancy Wheeler Driscoll, director of programs and education at Cape May Tech. “Students who complete this program could revitalize and renovate an existing property, make basic improvements or repairs to that property, or even convert it to rely on green energy. They might also come away with the skills to start a construction project from scratch, from framing to masonry.
Students in Cape May Tech’s two new post-secondary programs will be eligible to earn OSHA certification. Those enrolled in Aluminum Welding Manufacturing will cover the basics of welding as well as fabrication – the skills of cutting, bending and assembling shapes that are often needed regionally to repair boat engines or shape shapes. frames of canopies of boats or houses.
At Hudson County Schools of Technology, a partnership with the Jersey City Employment and Training Program has led to a new certificate program in lead reduction that is currently filling cohorts for four-session trainings. A grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs funds course attendance for eligible Hudson County applicants, with priority given to minority and Jersey City-based entrepreneurs.
Newly signed state legislation calling for the replacement of all lead pipes has accelerated the already identified need for contractors and their workers to obtain lead reduction certification. “Even before this legislation, we knew that few, if any, contractors in our area were certified in lead reduction,” said Alicia Abraham, director of vocational and technical education at Hudson County Schools of Technology. “Now, as a partner in this training program, we are building a pool of professionals right here in our county who are capable and ready to do this work. “
Other career-focused programs starting this year are Gloucester County Technical and Vocational School District Academy of Biological Sciences and Bergen County Technical Schools High School of Applied Technology Cyber Security. These highlight the diversity of program offerings at New Jersey County technical and vocational schools. And, offerings continue to evolve to match student interests and employer demand beyond traditional trades to reach just about every industry.
“Statewide, New Jersey County technical and vocational schools play a critical role in meeting their regional workforce needs, whether through new high school programs. , post-secondary or certificate, ”Michael Dicken, superintendent of Gloucester County Vocational-Technical School District and president of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, said. “Our schools will further increase this level of responsiveness as we approach a period of record growth with the support of funding approved this summer through the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.”
Employers can learn more and express interest in partnering with county technical and vocational schools at: careertechnj.org/become-a-business-partner/.