Raymond Vaccari, director of the NJ Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, and Matthias Duewell, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
An NJIT-hosted forum on the future of advanced manufacturing in the state found wide consensus among New Jersey manufacturers, state workforce training officials, and representatives from the university’s Division of Continuing Professional Education on the need to improve workers’ skills with closer cooperation among employers, vocational training programs, and 2- and 4-year colleges.Attendees at the forum, an executive round table meeting of the ManufactureNJ Talent Network expressed support for the longstanding German “dual system” apprenticeship model, in which trainees split their time between on-site job training and the classroom and the two sides work closely together to develop a curriculum based on industry needs.
A German delegation, including representatives from the German embassy, a U.S.-based German manufacturer, and a German teacher, presented the model on the final leg of what the group called a “skills initiative road show” with stops in several American cities. They view the system as a key element of the country’s notable success in manufacturing.
“One way to advance our training goals would be to set up apprenticeship programs. We’d like manufacturers to embrace this model,” said Raymond Vaccari, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, one of the seven networks established by the Christie administration to focus on the specific needs of industry sectors including financial services; healthcare; transportation, logistics and distribution; life sciences; hospitality and retail; and technology and entrepreneurship. A central aim of the networks is to help current underemployed or unemployed workers develop relevant skills that lead to jobs and to in turn help employers find qualified workers. NJIT’s Division of Continuing Professional Education was awarded the contract to run the manufacturing program by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Manufacturing companies in New Jersey say there is a pressing need for highly skilled workers in the state in such areas as CNC machining and mechatronics and like the idea of working with young people to better prepare them for technical jobs.
“Companies should get behind this and get involved. We should start by setting up a program and then recruit companies to sponsor trainees,” said Andrew Campbell, president of Eastern Millwork, Inc., an architectural woodwork manufacturer in Jersey, who is a member of the M-NJ Executive Round Table.
"So much of the way countless items are manufactured today depends on sophisticated IT-based equipment which can only be operated by IT-adept workers,” said Gale Tenen Spak, associate vice president for Continuing and Distance Education. In noting that NJIT also runs the Technology and Entrepreneurship Talent Network, she added, "We intend to align the needs of these different industry sectors to the mutual benefit of each, all for the purpose of helping to create and fill jobs in New Jersey.”
“The leadership here at NJIT is working to move and improve competencies in advanced manufacturing,” said President Joel Bloom, noting, “It’s important to remember that this institution was founded by manufacturers in the city of Newark who needed a trained talent pool.”