By Dino Flammia
Nearly 30,000 students in 2017 applied for a spot at a county vocational-technical high school in New Jersey.
Primarily due to space constraints, the state’s 60-plus schools could only welcome 12,974.
So while the demand for vocational school programs continues to grow among students interested in getting a head-start towards college or a career, these specialty schools in the Garden State are turning away more students they can accept.
But legislation advanced this month by a state Senate panel aims to devote hundreds of millions of dollars to help these schools expand their career and technical education offerings, as long as New Jersey residents green-light the move.
Sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, including Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, the measure would authorize the issuance of $750 million in bonds to benefit county vocational school districts ($450M), school security ($250M) and county colleges ($50M). It would be up to New Jersey voters to give the go-ahead on the new borrowing.
The move would benefit students looking for a vocational seat, as well as companies searching for workers with specific skills, according to Judy Savage, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools.
“Employers need to know that they’re going to be able to replace their retiring workers with young people who have both the technical skills and the general work readiness skills that they need,” Savage said.