Indicating that his goal is to increase to 65 percent the share of residents with working certificates and associate degrees or higher by 2025, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday signed an agreement bringing the state’s 19 community colleges into an expanded partnership with New Jersey’s year-old Career Connections network.
“A four-year degree is not for everyone. There are people who have other aspirations, other goals, other skills and abilities that can be maximized by the type of industry-related credentials that are given at community colleges, or by the two-year associates degree,” Christie said, adding that companies like LG, Honeywell, Goya, and UPS need employees.
But there’s a catch, and it could be a sizable one. The state Department of Labor counts on federal dollars to pay for programs like these, and the Trump administration’s budget proposal would lop $500 million nationwide from funding for job creation programs.
Critics call cuts to jobs programs shortsighted, but New Jersey Department of Labor Acting Commissioner Aaron Fichtner cautions against jumping to conclusions. “I think it’s too early to know what the budget’s going to look like,” he said. It’s got to work its way through Congress so I think it’s too early to comment.”
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