New Jersey community college leaders gather for NJ Pathways year-two kickoff

New Jersey community college leaders gather for NJ Pathways year-two kickoff

Leaders of New Jersey’s community colleges, including the state’s 10 Workforce Innovation CentersPart of New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative, gathered at Mill One in Hamilton last week, to review, highlight and celebrate milestones achieved in the initiative’s first year.

“The work we do is transformative and has real potential to change lives and strengthen the economy,” Aaron Fichtner, New Jersey Council of County Colleges president, told the crowd of 80. “Our work is getting national attention, and we’re proud of the partnerships and the hard work we’ve done together to make it happen. We’re doing exciting, innovative work, that’s happening on a larger scale than anywhere else in this country, and it’s being noticed. It’s only possible with all of you, and I’m very proud of the deep and sustained partnership we’ve achieved together in our community colleges.”

NJ Pathways — formed by New Jersey community colleges and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association — brings industry and education partners together to build an educational ecosystem connected across the state and guided by industry leaders to build an innovative Garden State workforce. This innovative initiative now has more than 1,200 industry and education partners across the state, helping propel New Jersey’s economy to new heights.

“We build the plane as we fly… as much as I hate that analogy, it’s true. You have all shared your wisdom, your expertise and your knowledge to make NJ Pathways — a ‘best in class’ in the country — a success and you deserve a round of applause. You did it, and, sometimes, it hurt, like things often happen when we change the paradigm. Now, as we enter year two, it will require more blood, sweat and tears, but we know you’re ready for what’s to come,” said Catherine Frugé Starghill, NJCCC vice president and executive director.

“NJCCC’s vision is focused both on increasing attainment of post-secondary industry credentials and degrees to meet the state’s credential attainment goal of 65 by 25 and addressing persistent and troubling equity gaps in the state’s economy ,” added Fichtner.

NJ Pathways milestones achieved in the first year include:

  • The creation of 10 Centers of Workforce Innovation in four sectors — health services, technology and innovation, infrastructure and energy, and manufacturing and supply chain management.
  • The Centers of Workforce Innovation — with New Jersey’s community colleges collaborating in unprecedented ways — have connected and enhanced 22 education and training pathways within the state’s four fastest-growing industries.
  • Creating a sustainable partnership — “a paradigm shift” — between industry and education. We engage with industry to directly influence pathways so that future employees have the skills and training that New Jersey business needs.
  • The entire initiative now has 1,200-plus industry and education partners, and Centers of Workforce Innovation include 20 high schools, 17 community colleges, nine four-year colleges and universities, eight labor unions and four community -based training provider.

In progress into the second year of NJ Pathways, NJCCC announced the creation of an online repository at — to be completed by late spring — to house the Pathway documents and curriculum so they can be shared with education partners across the state. An upcoming National Pathways Summit in June was also announced. Additionally, Collaborative Brag and Share Sessions will also be held in the coming months. The majority of community college leaders were also notified that “the Big Data Alliance” is partnering with NJ Pathways for a meeting of four-year colleges and universities and community colleges at Middlesex County College in April.