TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney emphasized the importance of modernizing and expanding the state’s manufacturing sector during a keynote address at the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program’s annual “State of the State of New Jersey Manufacturing” conference in Trenton Monday.
“Manufacturing in New Jersey has changed, but it is no less important,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “The continuation and expansion of manufacturing is critical to our competitiveness as a state. We need to do a better job of getting incentives to smaller companies and we need to rethink policies that focus solely on the number of jobs created, rather than the quality of the jobs and the overall impact on our economy.”
Sweeney sponsored the Career and Technical Education and Security Bond Act which gained voter approval for $500 million in support of expanding vocational education, school security and clean drinking water.
Senator Sweeney also stressed the role of vocational education to provide job skills for a rapidly-evolving economy and the need for the fiscal reforms in the Path to Progress report.
The bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus was established to identify ways to support the modernization and expansion of manufacturing as well as the training and education of vocational skills for students and workers in New Jersey.
“Manufacturing has become highly specialized and technical and it’s not necessarily located just in the cities,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex)., chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, who also addressed the conference.
“We have to ensure that we provide the vocational and apprenticeship opportunities that our young people need to get the technical-skilled jobs that manufacturing companies need to fill,” Greenstein said.
Both lawmakers noted that the McKinsey & Company report, “Reseeding the Garden State’s Economic Growth: A Vision for New Jersey,” specifically cited the shortage of middle-skilled workers with technical training as one of the main barriers to the state’s economic growth.
“We have an ally and an advocate for manufacturing and job training in Senator Sweeney,” said John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJ Manufacturing Extension Program. “I have worked closely with the Manufacturing Caucus so that we can identify our priorities and have them advanced in the Legislature.”
The NJMEP is a private, not–for-profit organization that improves the profitability and competitiveness of New Jersey’s manufacturers. Backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NJMEP enables organizations to enhance their productivity and efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve employee performance.