Committee Room 16
State House Annex
Trenton, New Jersey
September 17, 1996
MEMBERS OF TASK FORCE PRESENT:
Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, Chairman
Assemblyman Steve Corodemus
Assemblyman E. Scott Garrett
George H. Becker Jr.
Eugene Simko, Ph.D.
Steve Van Campen
(Internet edition 1997)
ASSEMBLYMAN JOSEPH AZZOLINA (Chairman): Good morning. This is the Task Force on -- we always get it backward and forward -- Business Retention, Expansion and Export Opportunities. This is the first meeting we have had this year to go into a new topic. The topic today is school-to-work.
Steve Corodemus and I, last year, were guests of -- I guess they call it the German Marshall Fund. We were guests with five other states in Europe to study their school-to-work program over in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. We learned quite a lot. We also found out, visiting many schools here, the Labor Department, and so forth, that we are really moving in the right direction. If we are going to be ready for the jobs in the 21st century, we are going to have to do a lot more so that our people are educated in the right direction to take these jobs.
I attended a seminar symposium the other day in Princeton. The President of Lucent Technologies spoke on that same topic, that if we don't move in the right direction, have the technical people in this State, industry is going to move somewhere else, and they feel we are not there yet. The fact that they are here, they would like to see more industries. If we are prepared here, it would become another area like in California, and some other states, where they have a lot of these technical people. They want to be where there are other industries with the same technical training as they have, so that they can interface with each other. So the purpose is to go into the School-to-Work Program.
I am going to turn the meeting over to Steve Corodemus -- Assemblyman Corodemus -- who is the Subchair of the School-to-Work Program. He is going to Chair this meeting today. We are going to expand more and more on it as we go along.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Joe, and thank you for placing your trust in me to Chair this subcommittee. This is an issue that I consider very important to me, to the Committee, and also to the State of New Jersey.
As Assemblyman Azzolina said, we took a trip, at the end of 1995, to three countries -- Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. For us, this trip was a real eye-opener. It was something that you could read about, you could be told stories about, but having gone there in person to see how a 1000-year-old program has developed to its 1995 status, was remarkable.
What was remarkable was the occupational training and the emphasis that is being placed on career paths from an early age in a student's development. What also was remarkable was the private sector's involvement in the entire program. The private sector, in fact, was the real driving force behind the dual-track system, as they call it in those countries. There was an equity placed between students who were college-bound and noncollege-bound which I don't think is the same status here perhaps in this State, or perhaps in this country.
When I returned to the United States with Assemblyman Azzolina, we were pleased to find out that great strides were being made in our own State, right in our own backyard in Monmouth County with regard to the School-to-Work Programs. Many of these programs are similar but are framed in different nomenclature. In fact, in 1993, one of our colleagues, Assemblyman Pat Roma, had the foresight to sponsor and enact into law the Youth Transition to Work Partnership, which is a variation on this program.
But the emphasis of all the different programs is on quality in job market experience. We are looking forward to a student body that is going to be highly literate, but also a highly productive workforce. What was remarkable in the European experience was that the students there were not only proficient at the time of graduation to hold a job in 1 of 300 different trades and professions, but they also had the ability to speak several languages and study the classics in school, and were very well rounded. What was refreshing to see was the holistic system. The chamber of commerce, the unions, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the parents of the students, and the students all seemed to come together to agree on a focused career path.
We are looking to try to adapt the best parts of that. We realize that we cannot absolutely transplant one school system across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, or to New Jersey, but we are trying to emulate the best parts of it.
Someone who preceded us in our trip to Germany was Commissioner Peter Calderone, from the Department of Labor. We are pleased to have the Commissioner with us this morning.
Good morning, Commissioner. We welcome you here, and are anxiously awaiting your testimony. I know you, too, share our interest in this program.
C O M M I S S I O N E R P E T E R J. C A L D E R O N E: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Task Force, staff, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today about workforce development initiatives in this State, issues that frame the fundamental mission of the New Jersey Department of Labor.
New Jersey has always recognized the importance of the four million talented and skilled men and women who form our workforce. Four million people are in New Jersey's workforce, one of the largest in the country; in fact, it is larger than many other countries'. They are the bedrock upon which our economic future rests.
As Governor Whitman expressed in Executive Order No. 36, in 1995: "New Jersey's skilled workforce is our strength as we compete in a world economy. Investments in training and education foster high skill/high wage jobs, provide economic leadership for the State, and offer a better standard of living for our citizens."
This Executive Order provides the authority and direction to consolidate, coordinate, and integrate our school-based and workplace-oriented career and job skills training activities. We must develop and support programs that promote workplace productivity and the ability of our workers, throughout their lifetimes, to continually upgrade their skills. The investment we make in workforce education and training is an investment in the future of our State.
That is why New Jersey is implementing one of the nation's most comprehensive and proactive workforce development systems which is responsive to the requirements of our workers and our employers.
We are also addressing the need to reshape and reenergize our education system to develop a highly effective school-to-work transition policy. In this way, we can prepare young people for career opportunities and the demands of the workplace.
Further, as a member of the national Commission for a Nation of Lifelong Learners, I am aware of the need for a coherent policy of continuous skill upgrades for our students and workforce. Such an integrated system of lifelong learning and training programs will keep our current and future workforce competitive, productive, and skilled.
Our efforts include utilization of advanced technologies such as computer profiling of new unemployment claimants for early skills training when indicated, self-directed computer and Internet job listings, automated career and training-provider information, and sophisticated resume matching of applicants and employers.
The fact that New Jersey has taken a leadership role in coordinating workforce development has enabled our State to successfully compete for all major Federal grants awarded to fund our programs. This includes over $8 million for One-Stop Career Centers and $37 million for school-to-work projects.
The Unified State Plan for New Jersey's Workforce Readiness System, published by the State Employment and Training Commission this August, provides a blueprint to focus our workforce readiness resources in ways that most effectively meet our present and future needs. I am providing a copy of this comprehensive report to this Task Force for your record. I will make sure-- If you need additional copies, we will get them to you, Mr. Chairman.
One of the key features of Executive Order No. 36 and the Unified State Plan is establishment of Workforce Investment Boards, or WIBs. The WIBs, which include business, labor, education, community organizations, and public agency representatives, work cooperatively in designing and implementing the workforce readiness program in ways that most effectively meet local conditions and requirements. In fact, we have in place 15 WIBs, one for each of the single county or multicounty service delivery areas developed throughout the State.
Each WIB will, in particular, analyze their labor market needs in order to focus education at the secondary level and at the advanced worker level and training programs on the business demands of the service delivery area. This includes the maintenance of career centers to serve, among others, displaced -- laid-off -- workers, students, and welfare recipients making the transition to work.
In fact, I will tell you, Mr. Chairman, one of my most disappointing days as Commissioner was going down to Cumberland County, which has the highest unemployment rate in the State, to talk with the owners and the managers of the glass industry, which has been a very, very important industry in that region, to find out that there was not one school, not one county college, no vocational comprehensive high school that would cooperate in developing the glass-making industry for young people so they would have a skilled workforce for that industry in the future. There was a disconnect between the education community and the demands of business. The Workforce Investment Boards are going to work to alleviate that.
The Department of Labor coordinates or administers a number of Federal and State training programs. Of particular importance is New Jersey's Workforce Development Partnership Act, which is both a fiscal and policy base for customized training, individual training grants, and apprenticeship activities.
Our customized training program for workers already on the job has been successful and an important feature in New Jersey's economic development strategy. Since January 1994, the State's investment of $40 million in grants has been matched by over $75 million in resources from participating companies for job training. In this period, nearly 45,000 workers at 380 companies have become more competitive, more proficient, and more productive, enabling these businesses to better compete in the global economy.
We are also helping workers whose skills are no longer at marketable levels by providing them with grants of up to $4000 a year for education and training. In the past two fiscal years, more than 7000 unemployed workers have been provided individual grants to help them gain marketable skills in demand occupations. This unique New Jersey program includes counseling on career and training choices and personalized employment development plans. Many of those 7000 would not have needed these grants had they had a good school-to-work transition while they were still in school.
The Youth Transitions to Work Program of registered apprenticeships is also supported by the Workforce Development Partnership Act in the amount of about $3 million a year. This endeavor engages employers, labor, educators, and parents to provide young people with an opportunity to connect the world of work and their classroom experiences.
Through our Apprenticeship Policy Committee and a competitive request for proposal process, resources are provided to local consortia of private sector employers, labor, and educational institutions.
At present, 51 programs have been funded and another 14 will be added next month. The apprenticeship areas have included engineering technology, chemical manufacturing, telecommunications, robotics technology, culinary arts, and automotive technologies. Work-based learning, mentoring programs, on-the-job training, and other activities are fostered in the apprenticeship method.
In Jersey City, for example, we created a consortium composed of corporate sponsors such as Merrill Lynch and the area colleges, including Saint Peter's, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Hudson County College, to place young people in the Jersey City school system in apprenticeships with the financial service industry.
Another program has young people at Atlantic County Vocational Technical School preparing for new culinary arts apprenticeships by working in the top restaurants of Atlantic City's hotel/casino industry. This program is directing students on a course that will enable them to be world-class chefs, bakers, and restaurant managers. Chefs from the casino restaurants, many trained in the European apprentice system, designed the curriculum and mentor the students. In addition, the other partners in this project include Atlantic County Community College, various casino restaurants, and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union, Local 54.
These are excellent programs and they are only one part of our statewide school-to-work effort, which has been greatly expanded with the Federal grant which now funds 22 more local programs. In fact, we are working to give every student in New Jersey the opportunity to experience the world of work, develop a strong work ethic, and make their career choices grounded in these experiences before high school graduation.
All too often in my conversations with employers, I hear that many young people are not making the connection that school is an opportunity to prepare for their future. In addition, it seems evident that many high schools tend to focus their resources on serving college-bound students at the expense of those who must find their own career paths directly after graduation.
To create an integrated school-to-work opportunities system, we have formed a partnership between the Labor and Education Departments. Together, we are building a process that offers students education, training, workplace experience, and employment options that will lead them to the specific skills and work attitudes employers seek. In that way, we will assure New Jersey's businesses of the quality workforce necessary to compete successfully in the international marketplace.
I have studied the European systems and visited German and Danish apprenticeship programs through the National Governors' Association.
We have the opportunity, I believe, to build on these historical entities and develop school-to-work initiatives in this State that best serve our needs.
To make this effort as successful as possible, we need to introduce career awareness into the school experience as early as kindergarten. For instance, in the Pleasantville school system, a consortium is already implementing career education in the elementary grades. Guidance counselors meet with the children at regular intervals to discuss jobs and basic information about work. In the later grades, employers visit the classroom to discuss the type of jobs available and what workers need to know for these jobs. Also, a career center has been established in New Brunswick to work with high school students, providing them with up-to-date career and job information. All New Brunswick High School students are taking part in a comprehensive career awareness course.
When I testified before our State Board of Education on core curriculum issues, I made it clear that we need to bring our schools into partnerships with labor and business to maintain our economic competitiveness. Through these partnerships, young persons will have the opportunity to make career and education decisions grounded in the reality of the workplace while they are still in school. Recognizing these matters, the State Board recently incorporated work-based learning concepts as part of the educational program for all New Jersey students.
We are pleased by the progress we have made through Governor Whitman's leadership and direction under Executive Order No. 36 and the support we have received from many of the members of this Task Force and the Legislature in general. I look forward to advancing New Jersey's workforce development programs with your support and assistance.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Thank you, Commissioner, for testifying.
Perhaps one of the most pleasant memories in our tour of Europe was the Department of Labor office in Munich, Germany. We were in a room about three times this size, and one full wall was occupied with CD disc players. Students would go there on a rotating basis to-- There was a long German word for sniffing about to find out what the most interesting career path was. They would go there and if they, for example, were interested in some type of a craft or trade, they would have an opportunity to experiment with one of 300 different crafts or trades. See, the schools that taught those crafts or trades, the buildings, the students there, the curriculum, etc.-- The Department of Labor had a very intensified role in that whole program, working in conjunction with the Department of Education.
Are there any questions from the panel?
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Assemblyman, I would just like to add that, you know, since I was there, I was as impressed as you were. We have been successful in just receiving a grant from the Federal Department of Labor to duplicate a video library system that will be part of the one-stop centers. The interesting thing about going to Munich, German, is that our Department of Labor's roots, our historical roots, are in Munich. Thirteenth or fourteenth century Germany is when the first registry of jobs and the first guilds-- So our historical roots are there, and to go there and see how much they have progressed and how much we can still learn from them, was amazing.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: It was a remarkable system. The students felt very much at home there. They were just as much at home there as they were at the workplace or the school building.
I think when a high school brags that 80 percent or 90-some percent of their students are going to college, I think that is a disservice to the students, because half of those never even finish college, and you think it is the first year. We have to start to train school systems and guidance counselors have to start guiding students to go into a field where they can get a job. Just to say that they are going to college is not enough, because those students who go just for one year are doing a disservice to that college also, or to that university.
I was amazed, also, when coming back after taking that tour-- Through Steve's initiative, we visited several of the high schools, other community colleges, and so forth, and we are advancing so far in our training. We visited Asbury Park. I kept thinking of the vocational schools like in the old days, carpentry and a little plumbing, and that was it. But it is no longer just vocational, it is training for jobs.
They had a bakery. They were baking and selling the products at a little supermarket, training people how to put up stock and how to check out. They had the hairdresser's. They also taught them how to cook for a restaurant, and they taught them serving. Then, in the technical fields, auto mechanics, they go out in the field and work. In fact, I even said to my people, "Get over there. We're short of people. Go find some of those people, some of those young students, to come to work for us."
So they are well aware in Europe that we cannot follow their system, but we can take some of their ideas and use our high schools and community colleges to work together and develop, as you are doing. I want to compliment you. There have been a lot of heads of the Labor Department -- Commissioners -- in the past I have known, but I think you are the best we have ever had in New Jersey. I span since Hughes through all the governors.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: We agree.
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Well, thank you.
One other thing that is really critical, when I mentioned about the work ethic, is that most places can train you in basic skills, but getting work-base experience helps young people to learn how to communicate, how to work in teams, how to be effective, to show up on time. I have seen many, particularly the vocational schools-- I know they don't call it work ethic, but they instill that kind of motivation. It is as critical as the skills learning.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Commissioner, we have some questions from the panel. But before we start the questions, I think we all ought to introduce ourselves to the congregation here. Perhaps, Dr. Bloom, you can start off, and we will go around the table. But we will start with your question.
DR. BLOOM: Thank you.
Joel Bloom, representing Saul Fenster from NJIT.
I read, with interest, that the $4000 education training grants are now being funded.
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Through the Workforce Development Partnership, we give about 3000 a year -- individual training grants. There are statutory restrictions. People have to be unemployed. They come through the unemployment system. We profile them to indicate that they lack marketable skills to get back into the workforce, and they are tracked. They have individual training plans. Unlike most programs, we do not pay the training providers until the student graduates. So there is a real incentive for an effective program.
DR. BLOOM: Just a comment. I was going to say it later on in some comments I am going to make. In the early 1990s, those were available stipends, so at a place like NJIT we allowed the students to go tuition free, but they could use the stipends for expenses they needed to attend classes. Is there still that latitude, or is it only getting paid to the education training centers?
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Under our law, if our colleges have vacant space, they are to offer that to the unemployed for free. Now, you make a decision as to whether or not you have room, and the unemployed, in fact, come that way.
The statute is very clear that under the Workforce Development Partnership Act, it is a tuition payment. We use it to pay the training provider for the tuition for the course. There are Federal programs that do allow for greater flexibility.
DR. BLOOM: And just an invitation: I read with interest about Jersey City and what you are doing there. We welcome you to Newark. You can have a go at it there as well.
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Well, I have been to NJIT, and I'll tell you, the most fascinating-- If there is anyone who hasn't seen it, I'll tell you, it is one of the most fascinating in New Jersey. It is the factory of the future. It is amazing, you know, because we go out in the field and we see skilled machinists and tool and die makers. Then to go to NJIT and see these graduate students being able to duplicate with computers, in certain respects, what an individual spent 20, 30 years learning, a trade, is an amazing system.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You know, speaking about NJIT, I had a hearing there several years ago with my Committee, and they took me around to visit the various programs. I said, "Where are these students from?" They said, "Seventy-five percent of them are from out of the country." I said, "What? Our own people are not taking advantage of this?" whatever the program was that I was looking at. So we have to get our own people in this country to start using what we have. We have great facilities in this country -- in this State.
Commissioner, you are welcome to stay with us. I know you have many appointments this morning, but stay as long as you desire.
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Thank you very much. Deb (Majority Staff Aide), I will leave this with you.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: George, perhaps we could just go around the table and introduce ourselves.
MR. BECKER: I also wanted to ask the Commissioner a question before he goes.
I am George Becker, retired international business executive from Monmouth County.
I had the pleasure, after World War II, to live there for eight years during the reconstruction of western Europe and I had a lot of hands-on experience with what you had a chance to witness in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, because those were the countries I lived in at that time.
The key to all this, as you know better than anyone else, is the extent to which the business community cooperates. Now, I am just getting involved in this. Are you satisfied with the cooperation you are getting from the business community in the State of New Jersey?
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: Well, I was just at Prosperity New Jersey before coming here, the business ambassadors who go out -- the top leaders in New Jersey business who go out to other companies to talk about New Jersey and try to get business to be retained here, to expand here, and to get new companies to come. They were kind of amazed that we have a school-to-work system. I don't think the business community is aware of it. But the key, I believe, the thing that we can export from the European system, is that the business community has a say and input in curriculum. One of the things we did this summer, as an experiment, was, we took 30 guidance counselors from the public schools and had them work in the employment services to see what it is like, people who do not have jobs, people who need skills, where the careers are. We taught them to use the Internet, the job banks, and the career information system. So they go back to their high schools and use this training on a daily basis with the students.
But the biggest problem-- I see exactly what you said. The business community has to have major input if we are going to be successful and deal with demand occupations, what business needs, and curriculum and the development of the young people at an early age. Now, the Workforce Investment Boards are intended for that very purpose. By the Executive Order of the Governor, at least half of the members have to be from the business community. Also on that board will be the county superintendent of schools, the college president, the vocational school superintendent. Bring them all to the table with labor leaders and work in developing a comprehensive workforce development training program for that service--
We are talking about $200 million in public money spent a year in worker training and retraining. These programs would be much more effective, in my judgment, if they would focus on the needs of business. We are doing everything we can to get the business community to become, we believe, the essential partner in the relationship.
MR. BECKER: The input, obviously, is critical but, even more important, is the commitment from the business community to provide the jobs. As you know, in Europe, it is not just a partnership between the academic community, the government, and business. Government plays a very important role in seeing to it that businesses do it, not just suggest that they do it, which is quite a bit different than the way we have done it in the United States.
So do you think that in due course, once they know more about it, once there is greater awareness, that they will make the commitment, because without the jobs, all the input in the world is not going to lead to anything beneficial?
COMMISSIONER CALDERONE: You are absolutely right. We got a very positive reception. In fact, I'll just-- I don't know if Jeff is speaking, but Jeff Stoller went with me to Europe. Jeff is Vice President of the Business and Industry Association. So he has been leading the charge from the business end and just writes terrific articles and goes all over the State to help us -- the Labor Department -- to deal with our constituency. The business community has been quite responsive. Again, they are essential if we are going to succeed.
One of the problems with the European system, in my judgment, has been the overregulation. I don't think that would be successful here.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Commissioner.
Let me just introduce the balance of the panel members: Dr. Gene Simko, from Monmouth University; Neil Sheridan, Bob Schattner -- you have already met Assemblyman Azzolina -- Joe McNamara, Steve Van Campen. Welcome, all. Thank you for joining us today.
We have 15 witnesses for testimony here today, so I request that we restrain our comments and questions so we can get through the list. Of course, these witnesses will be with us throughout the Committee's deliberations over the next few months, and we can maintain a dialogue with them. But I would like to make sure that everybody is reached today, since they came out in such bad weather to join us here in Trenton.
Our next witness will be Ellen Schechter, Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Education, whom we met with early on with Commissioner Calderone. We are looking forward to having the administration on board with us in these deliberations.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: What did I see on TV the other day? Were you interviewed by Lynn--
A S S T. C O M M I S S I O N E R E L L E N S C H E C H T E R: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You looked different on TV. I don't know--
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: We also were on television together. Do you remember that?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I know, we were both on.
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: Discussing this subject.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today. As Assemblyman Corodemus said, I am Ellen Schechter, Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Education's Division of Academic Programs and Standards. It is my pleasure to appear before you to discuss the Department of Education's support for school-to-work and its related imperative to prepare all our students for their ultimate entry into the workforce. With me this morning is Dr. Thomas Henry, Director of the Department's Office of School-to-Work Initiatives. Following my remarks, Dr. Henry will provide detail regarding apprenticeship programs in New Jersey.
As you may know, and as Commissioner Calderone has referenced, New Jersey was one of eight states nationwide to compete successfully to receive a large-scale Federal school-to-work implementation grant. Over a five-year period beginning in 1994, New Jersey will receive a total of $37 million to support development of model programs which exemplify the school-to-work philosophy.
Quite apart from the significant contribution which this Federal initiative will make in advancing New Jersey's goals, school-to-work is viewed more broadly as a fundamental policy which has been incorporated in substantiative ways into the public educational arena in this State. For decades, there has been a traditional schism in our State's high schools between those tracks which prepare students for higher education and those which prepare students for immediate entry into the workforce upon graduation from high school. This marked separation has not gone unnoticed by the business, labor, and corporate communities. Indeed, over the past ten years, one national report after another has challenged the public educational system to mute the lines of distinction between vocational and academic preparation and, indeed, to view a legitimate function of public education as the preparation for ultimate entry into the workforce.
The Department of Education's commitment to school-to-work as a philosophy which should guide the educational experience for all students is exemplified by the recent adoption by the New Jersey State Board of Education of core curriculum content standards in seven academic areas and an accompanying set of workplace readiness standards. Over the coming year, our commitment to advancing school-to-work in New Jersey will be further intensified. These standards -- both academic and workplace readiness -- comprise the results which we expect all students to master prior to graduation in the 12th grade. For the first time in New Jersey, there is a common set of expectations to which local school districts will respond in designing curriculum and other educational programs to prepare students to demonstrate their mastery of academic and workplace readiness content as a condition for high school graduation.
Our workplace readiness standards, like the overarching academic standards, are designed to provide broad indications of focus. They are not intended to prescribe how local districts prepare young people. Instead, they communicate our belief that all students should be expected to perform at substantially high levels of academic achievement and, just as importantly, to demonstrate readiness for the workplace with sets of skills and a body of knowledge surrounding five general areas. The five general areas to which the cross content workplace readiness standards respond are the following:
1) career planning and workplace readiness skills;
2) the use of technology, information, and other tools;
3) the use of critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills;
4) the demonstration of self-management skills; and
5) the application of safety principles.
When the State Board of Education adopted these standards on May 1 of this year, the Board also adopted an accompanying set of indicators or benchmarks which delineate where along the spectrum of achievement students ought to be at the critical points of 4th grade, 8th grade, and 11th or 12th grade. Included among the indicators which the Board accepted along with the content standards was the requirement that all students -- be they headed immediately for higher education or for employment -- would select career majors and would complete an appropriate work-based learning experience. We will, in this year ahead of us, be reviewing all existing school-to-work efforts in light of these new standards.
We believe that the actions taken by the State Board of Education place New Jersey in a unique position. While nearly all of New Jersey's sister states around the country are engaged in standard-setting initiatives similar to the one New Jersey has just completed, no other state that we are aware of has taken the decisive steps New Jersey has to ensure that the 13-year public educational experience includes substantiative experiences and rigorous expectations regarding preparation for the workplace.
With public education in this State consuming nearly one-third of the State's budget, we have positioned ourselves, from a policy perspective, to respond to the legitimate complaints which have been voiced by the beneficiaries of this resource-consuming enterprise called public education. For too long, those entities which benefit directly from K-12 public education -- the military, employers, and higher education -- have had to invest their own resources to ameliorate the deficiencies of those who graduate from New Jersey's high schools. The new system, with focus upon the results of high academic and rigorous workplace standards for all students, will take time to implement fully. However, once firmly in place, we believe that employers, colleges and universities, and the military will see that all schools will be preparing the students they require to remain competitive in the international economy.
I thank you for this opportunity this morning to appear before you. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. After that, Dr. Henry will be providing some detail about our initiatives with apprenticeship programs.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I am going to hold my questions and hear Dr. Henry's testimony.
T H O M A S A. H E N R Y, Ed.D.: Thank you and good morning.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Task Force, I would like to take the next few minutes to provide you with an overview of the apprenticeship system in New Jersey and to present the status of the Youth Transitions to Work Program.
Since 1960, the New Jersey Department of Education has cooperated with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training to operate the apprenticeship system in the State of New Jersey. This cooperative agreement results in the dual registration of apprentices and the granting of two journey person's certificates when the apprentice completes the program.
While the number of years for the apprenticeship varies according to the occupation, the two constants of the apprenticeship are the number of on-the-job training hours -- which is 2000 per year -- and the number of related training hours -- 144 per year. The related training component can be provided in a number of settings: the union hall, the work site, or at the county college or the county vocational school.
The Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training maintains an office in our State that facilitates communication between that office and the State Apprenticeship Coordinator, who is housed in our office here in Trenton. The Department provides funding to each of the 21 county vocational technical schools to subsidize the position of a County Apprenticeship Coordinator. The Coordinators' duties include:
1) encouraging businesses to establish apprenticeships for new employees;
2) registering new apprentices;
3) tracking all apprentices through their apprenticeship; and
4) processing the completion papers so that apprentices can receive their journey person's certificates.
In Fiscal Year 1997, the Department increased its financial support of the county coordinators' system by including funds for a computer system to electronically link the coordinators with the State Apprenticeship Coordinator. This network, when fully implemented, will allow for a faster registration and tracking system.
The Department views apprenticeship as a proven way to transition students from school to work. The 5000-year history of apprenticeship clearly demonstrates that it is an outstanding way of preparing highly trained and motivated workers. The renewed emphasis on apprenticeship in this country is based on the studies of the highly successful European apprenticeship system.
To increase our focus on apprenticeship, we have directed all of the school-to-work grantees to develop an apprenticeship option for all of the students who intend to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
In an effort to increase businesses' awareness of and participation in the apprenticeship system, the bilateral agreement with the U.S. BAT was extended to include the New Jersey Department of Labor. The Department of Labor has developed many ways to acquaint employers with the benefits of apprenticeship in training their entering workforce. This excellent working relationship has proven to be very successful as evidenced by the increased rate of employer participation in apprenticeship programs, especially among small employers.
Since its enactment into law, the Youth Transitions to Work Partnership Program has been a successful strategy to enable students to transition from high school into unionized apprenticeship programs. Our handout provides you with the data on the program to date.
Program funds are awarded to partnerships on a competitive basis. Each year, the Department of Education releases a Request for Proposal for the funds available through the Workforce Development Partnership Act and the Perkins Vocational Act. In addition, because of the strict eligibility requirements of the Job Training Partnership Act, a separate Request for Proposal, using the JPTA funds, is distributed by the Department of Labor. The proposals from both competitions are read by a four-person review panel made up of individuals from each of the agencies comprising the State Apprenticeship Policy Committee.
Based on our experience to date, successful programs have a very good working relationship between the educational institutions, the businesses, and the labor unions. When either of these partners play a passive role in the operation of the program, the program quality suffers, and we have had to end some programs because of a diminished partnership. The lack of full involvement of the partners has been the principal reason why it has been necessary to deny some of these partnerships refunding of their initial proposals.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have either about apprenticeship or the Youth Transitions to Work Program.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Are there any questions from the panel?
MR. SHERIDAN: If I may-- I am an Aide to Mayor Schundler in Jersey City. One of our concerns is the shocking truancy and dropout rates that we experience in high school. While certain programs such as the Financial Industry Apprentice Program that we have had for several years have been very successful, I am concerned about the large numbers of people who are underemployed or permanently unemployed because of a poor educational basis.
You know, speaking with German relatives of mine, I understand that in the German model certainly, and in the others, there is a very firm hand by the government in keeping students in the schools and having them choose a major. If their grades qualify them, they get to go on to higher education, and if not, they find a suitable range of study for them.
What can we do to make sure that our program does not suffer in the long term from dropout and truancy problems?
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: I think there are many answers to that question. I think that the truancy and dropout situation in Jersey City, and in other cities in this State, is a serious societal problem. I think that education can help to ameliorate it, but not completely.
But, in answer to that question, the kind of policy direction that we are headed in, in New Jersey, is one which is somewhat different from the European models, which do track students, depending upon their abilities at fairly early ages. Our policy direction is one which says that we believe that all students should demonstrate very high levels of academic mastery and be ready to enter the workplace, be it immediately or later. So there is going to be a substantial difference, but as Assemblyman Azzolina said, it is important that we adopt the American model to fit best what our society needs.
But as far as your specific question is concerned, I think when it begins to take root in the public educational system, the early preparation of students, starting in kindergarten and extending thereafter, with the exposure of these students to career opportunities and career expectations, this should make a difference. At the moment, I believe, as Commissioner Calderone said, there really is a disconnect between public education and the world of work. Kids do not know that what they are learning in school is for a purpose, which is to prepare them to be productive adults. One of our primary focuses in years to come will be to help students to make that connection.
That was a long-winded answer, but I felt it needed to be addressed from all those different perspectives.
MR. SHERIDAN: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: One of the things that I am hoping to see out of this school-to-work program is that students will find a renewed relevance in their academic studies, and that if they have focused in on a career path, what they learn in a classroom will have immediate application in their hands-on training, thereby keeping their attention in school and reducing the dropout rate. That is my personal hope that it is going to work out that way. Perhaps through the testimony, experience, and visits that we plan to take throughout the State and schools, somehow this will be substantiated.
Steve, you had a question down on your end?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Yes, I do, to Dr. Henry, if I might.
It is interesting to try to get your arms around this apprenticeship program and the exact role the State plays. If I understand your second paragraph here, it says, "Since 1960, the N.J. Department of Education has cooperated with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training to operate the apprenticeship system in the State of New Jersey. This cooperative agreement results in the dual registration of apprentices and the granting of two journey person's certificates when the apprentice completes the program."
That statement suggests to me that you track every apprentice applicant or graduate in the State. Is that correct?
DR. HENRY: Yes, that is correct.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: You do that by funding, for instance, through the vo-tech schools, the county coordinators, and what have you. How do you know that you have an accurate handle on the number of apprentices who are in motion and those, in particular, who are appropriate for degree candidacy?
DR. HENRY: Because we dual register with the BAT, we know every registered apprentice in the State of New Jersey. That is our file.
Now, when an apprentice is registered, there is a document drawn up that details, for the last of the apprenticeship, what will be involved in the 2000 hours each year of related training. So if a person is in a machining apprenticeship, how many hours on a lathe, how many hours on a grinding machine, how many hours on a vertical mill will be specified for each year. Also, that document will specify the related training requirements, the 144 hours. So if the apprentice -- like in Cumberland County, where I worked for many years -- went to the county college for his related training, what courses he was going to take by semester were outlined.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Is that what you are asking, Steve?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: More or less. I am tracking how they keep track of all the apprentices in the system and what the criteria for graduation is. How do they track those?
DR. HENRY: The coordinators then certify that the apprentice is making progress through that schedule. When the Apprenticeship Committee, the Joint Apprentice Committee of the employer and the union certify that the individual has completed the apprenticeship, the apprenticeship coordinator processes the paperwork to our office and to BAT, and that is when we issue the certificates.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: There are two quick questions from Dr. Simko and Joe McNamara.
DR. SIMKO: Yes, thank you.
I am very impressed with your program and your statistics, and I thought your report was very informative.
I have a question for Assistant Commissioner Schechter. You mentioned -- and I quote here from your prepared statement -- that, "Students, whether they be headed immediately for higher education or for employment, would have some sort of on-the-job training." Obviously, this correlation for students who are going to head right into the workforce--
I am curious as to the brief description of the logistics of getting an academic-oriented person into a work environment prior to going through, you know, the rigmarole of applying for college entrance, taking exams, and everything else. How do you see that unfolding?
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: That is a good question, and I promise to be brief.
We did that, or the State Board of Education did it, because they see all students as prospective employees ultimately. So, how do you see it? You see it in programs such as the ones that are being run by our college -- county vocational schools which are running, for instance, magnet schools and high-tech high schools and attracting some of the most gifted students in the particular catchment area they are in. They are giving them intensive academic training, and then they are pairing them in mentoring relationships or job-shadowing relationships with corporate representatives who exemplify the subject matter they are studying.
So, for instance, at the Monmouth County high-tech high school there are students who are studying science who are partnering with physicians at Riverview Medical School -- Center -- and they are shadowing doctors and spending time with physicians and learning how the science they have just acquired applies itself in practice. That is an example.
DR. SIMKO: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Joe?
MR. McNAMARA: Quickly, as our economy shifts more from an industrialized base -- although, obviously, we have to maintain that -- to more of a high-tech knowledge economy, how has your program shifted in terms of emphasis to accommodate that? What needs do you see? Do we have a good handle -- I know this is a tough question -- on what future needs might be in terms of technical training to prepare our children? Do we have the resources and the programs to do it, or do we have to make adjustments?
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: Are you talking about computer technology or--
MR. McNAMARA: The skills, yes.
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SCHECHTER: Public education has a long way to advance in that area, and we are doing a great deal most immediately to help our schools and our students to be prepared for what is going to await them upon exit from public education. We are doing it, primarily, through our proposed funding model, which is currently being considered by the Legislature, in which we are -- in the model that we are proposing for financing public education, including enough money per pupil -- or as part of the funding model that there will be technology for students now and in the future. In addition, we have a special distance learning program that has been proposed. These are just some of the examples of ways in which we believe, through policy and funding, we are helping to get kids ready.
But we have a long way to go. At the moment, I think New Jersey public education, as far as its technological advantage is concerned, is more evident in the affluent districts than it is in the poorer ones. We want to be able to even that scale. I believe we are positioning ourselves to do that.
DR. HENRY: If I may just add to that: In the occupational program area at the national level, the National Skills Standards Board has brought industries together to define the skill expectations in each industry field. We give schools grants to upgrade their programs to those national standards each year. That is now we assure that the occupational programs are meeting industry needs.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you for coming today.
We will be working closely with you over the next few months.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome a colleague of ours, Assemblyman Scott Garrett. It is nice to have you with us, Assemblyman.
We are now going to hear from Jeff Stoller, New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
I see Dr. McAndrew and Dr. Bistocchi here. Are Mike Keegan, Warren Carman, and Ed Turenne here? (affirmative responses from audience) Okay. You gentlemen are on deck for the vocational schools. To the extent that your testimony is similar, perhaps you could collaborate to present different facets of that before you come up.
J E F F R E Y S T O L L E R: Thank you very much.
In the interest of time, I have distributed a written statement. I thought maybe I could just touch on some of the issues that came to mind.
I was fortunate, as Commissioner Calderone mentioned, to accompany him on that trip to Munich, Germany, and Denmark, to see the programs that you saw during your trip. I must agree that it is an impressive sight, and that there are lessons -- even though we cannot recreate what they have there in Germany, there are some valuable lessons that we can draw from them.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You know -- if I may just cut in for a second--
MR. STOLLER: Sure.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I think we can develop, learning from them and what we already have, take the two combinations-- I think one day we can have a better system than them.
MR. STOLLER: I think that is what they would tell you as well. In fact, I think we had that statement, because there are elements of our system, such as the flexibility of our community colleges to quickly respond to specific skill training needs in a specific location, you know, that they said that their own system, as elaborate as it is, would have a hard time retooling, going in a new direction, negotiating all the changes with the parties there. So, in many ways, they do envy some of the parts of the American system. Quite frankly, for cultural reasons, and many others, I don't think you can just take the apprenticeship system of Europe and simply impose it on New Jersey.
Some of the ideas that I had in this area have already been touched upon. The need to pursue earlier career educations-- Both the teachers and the students are much more receptive to issues that come up in the workplace. Certainly, all the elementary school students in this State have regular visits out to the Nature Center to learn about nature, biology, and the environment, as they should. But how many of them make similar trips to a company to learn about making things, have discussions in class about the kinds of things people do to earn a living? I think you have to begin early, and I believe that is part of the planning that the Education Department, and certainly the Department of Labor, have in mind.
We know it is really the responsibility of the employers to take a much more active role. They certainly have been active in complaining about the level of skills coming through the door in terms of job applicants. What we have been trying to do at BIA -- and I am sure the Chamber and others are making similar efforts as well -- is to try to get the companies that have the greatest needs to communicate with their local school districts to try to work in an advisory capacity on curriculum.
But again, there have been stories like the Commissioner related, not just the one down in South Jersey with the glass industry that was rebuffed. We have stories from North Jersey, sometimes in cities that, again, are experiencing high unemployment, high dropout rates, and yet when these companies approach the school district, because this would not be a college-bound scenario, they are rebuffed and the faculty, or the administrators are not interested. There have been some disappointments there. Quite frankly, in this economy, when an industry is rebuffed one too many times, there are options outside of New Jersey where they will make an investment.
I think in terms of bringing the classroom and the workplace closer together, I think some of our best allies in this effort are the many companies which, long ago, established connections with students and have been engaged in what we would now call school-to-work. School-to-work did not come about in the past couple of years. I would advise that we reach out to the companies that, say, the vo-tech schools have worked with, in some cases for decades, because I think in terms of getting the work out, in terms of the value of this kind of a program -- not just for the employer in terms of having more trained, skilled people coming into the workforce, but I believe there really is a payoff for the schools to have a classroom beyond the classroom, in a sense, to show science and math in a hands-on setting.
I know that different students learn in different ways. I was the kind of person, you know, who could just be sat in a classroom and told, "Okay, read the book and respond to the lecture," and so forth. But I think there are people who are going to respond much more energetically and effectively to a workplace setting. I think it could be something that would be very valuable to teachers as well.
Finally, my only comment in terms of what we are doing in terms of displaced workers, and the adults as well, not just the youth-- We have been supporters of the Workforce Development Partnership Act. We know that has been able to reach out to tens of thousands of workers. We would like to see more going on in that area. But one of our concerns is with the whole focus of the Legislature so far, because I really think that in recent years there has been enormous focus on expanding the unemployment system simply for the purpose of providing those benefits.
We have seen the thresholds lowered in the past year to make it easier to qualify. We have had a special appropriation, I think now, of $350 million for extended benefits. There is legislation -- Assembly Bill No. 2047 -- which would permanently lower the triggers and allow 13 or 20 weeks of extended benefits. Again, it just seems to me that that kind of effort and energy and money really could be better served trying to help people who are in our unemployment system connect with opportunities more readily.
It just seems that if someone has not been able to connect with new leads or new skills training by the end of the six months of their regular unemployment benefits, are we really being effective by simply adding another 13 or 20 weeks.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Jeff, let me interrupt you one second here.
MR. STOLLER: Yes?
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: There seems to be some anxiety that the private sector won't step up to the plate and participate in the school-to-work program. I know, from my personal experience touring the limited facilities that I have around the State, that they are, in fact, but across the board, what is in it for business to participate, an example?
Before I permit you to answer, when we were in Austria, we visited the Bloom Cabinet Hinge Factory where they make tons and tons of steel kitchen cabinet hinges. I spoke to the two brothers who own the company there, the Bloom brothers. It is a $300 million a year business. I asked them, "Why do you invest millions of dollars every year in this school, in this dual-track system? You are paying kids to learn on the job and you are ultimately employing them." Their answer was, "Well, it is our civic duty to do that."
I believe that they believe it is their civic duty and they go through the process. But we do not have that 1000-year record here. We don't have that generational experience. We are sort of starting this decade, so to speak, getting things going.
What is the immediate and long-term return on businesses' investment in a program like this?
MR. STOLLER: Well, I think it is being seen in some industries and companies more than in others right now, but I think that eventually everyone is going to wake up to the fact that we have an aging workforce. Some have been able to use technology to buy a little time, but we have a number of industries here in New Jersey where time has simply run out. It is not a matter of civic duty. Their workforces are aging. The skilled people in their workforces are going to be retiring in the next 10 years, and if they haven't been cultivating workers in the interim, they really have to go to this new group of young workers and bring them up to speed a lot more quickly. It is an economic argument.
I mean, I will be frank with you. We can always bring in some companies using the civic duty argument, but I think there are compelling economic reasons that will make sense to small businesspeople and larger employers to say, "Look at all the money you are spending now searching for talented workers and using up money there, having to retrain students who come out with the skills from high schools, or even the colleges, and then you say, 'These are not what we need. We have to spend more.'"
I think that if they were more engaged, if we could show them, again, using examples from real companies that have already done this, and say, "We are not reinventing the wheel. Here are the ways that we saved money at this company, because we spoke to our schools early, so by the time the students came out of the high school program, or the vo-tech program, or maybe with some additional training at a community college or a four-year, they have what you need. You do not have to devote another 18 months of your company's money and time going over doing what should have been done earlier"-- I think we could make that argument.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Do you have any success stories where you can get some testimony from participating members that can come here or go out on the circuit to speak to other people in the private sector to encourage them to testify firsthand that this was that particular company's return on their investment that was a success?
MR. STOLLER: Oh, yes. We would be glad to work with this Task Force, and we are already working with the Department of Labor on this. There are a number of school-to-work initiatives in each of the counties. I have been going out and talking with teachers in Camden, Gloucester. There are initiatives all over the place. But again, I would say that while we are doing that on the private sector side, this group could be reaching out to the vo-tech people, because they can tell you precisely who in the business community has been most active, and they might be able to help you to zero in even faster than we could zero in on those success stories which can really draw on a number of years of experience, not just people who are trying it out for the first time in the 1990s.
MS. SMARTH (Majority Staff Aide): Jeff, may I just ask one question?
MR. STOLLER: Sure.
MS. SMARTH: I am just wondering if you can tell the Task Force how you feel about, do we need more infrastructure to help coordinate and be a catalyst for greater industry involvement, or will the WIBs -- the Workforce Investment Boards -- be sufficiently equipped to promote the kind of educational institution/business and industry relationships that are necessary to create public relations so that the companies know that this exists, and promoting their involvement with these activities because in the long run, it would help them in their workforce?
MR. STOLLER: Well, the WIBs are obviously a key element. They have all the people at the table, including labor, who had not been participating previously in the private industry councils.
I just came from a meeting this morning with the Employment and Training Commission, which is trying to revive what had been a privately supported forum, the Leadership Institute here in the State, where the State agencies and people in corporations with an interest in workforce development came together, shared ideas, learned about the system, and heard from Tom Henry and others who have been working in school-to-work. So I think there are a number of forums that we could turn to that are out there. I just don't know that we need to go crazy creating 14 new groups. I think between the WIBs and maybe, you know, creating this kind of a forum in the private sector, we have quite enough to deal with right there.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Jeff.
MR. BECKER: I would like to make a comment on the observation you made earlier about the economics of all this. As you are probably well aware--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Would you please turn your microphone on, George, so we can hear you?
MR. BECKER: Is it on now?
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Yes.
MR. BECKER: All right, fine. Thank you.
Now, Mr. Chairman, you said earlier-- You directed a question to Jeff here about the economics of worker training. Today, one of the biggest problems in the international marketplace, as you probably know, is that right here in New Jersey, in New England, and also in Silicon Valley, there is an outright shortage of trained workers. Today, in the field of telecommunications and computer software, people are looking outside the United States because there are not enough trained workers here in America. If they could find trained workers in those two areas, they would employ them. But you probably read in the newspaper, and elsewhere, about the number of Asians, Indians, and people from other parts of the world who are coming here because they are willing to work for less, but also, and more importantly, because they are well trained. It is a very serious problem.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: It is also a matter of great controversy, because there are numerous studies. I think the CATO Institute just came out with a study on the actual question of immigration -- immigrants taking Americans' jobs in high-tech sectors. I think the CATO Institute's findings were that they were actually being paid more than domestic workers.
MR. BECKER: Even if you put aside the money involved, there is a shortage.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Yes.
MR. BECKER: We are just not training the people to fill the slots that are available.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, and thank you, Jeff, for testifying today.
Let me ask Dr. Brian McAndrew and Dr. Thomas Bistocchi to come up to testify. Welcome, gentlemen.
Dr. McAndrew has been a personal friend to Assemblyman Azzolina and I for many years, and has also been very helpful to us in arranging tours of the existing facilities and programs in Monmouth County.
B R I A N D. M c A N D R E W, Ed.D.: Good morning.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Good morning.
DR. McANDREW: I, also, would like to express my appreciation to Assemblymen Azzolina and Corodemus for inviting me here this morning to talk to the Task Force in reference to school-to-work.
I am going to take a few minutes and give you a little bit of background about what Monmouth County Vo-Tech does and a little bit in terms of what the county vo-teches themselves in the State of New Jersey do in terms of school-to-work.
I am Superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District. I have also been employed by the Monmouth County Vocational School District for 27 years, so I have been involved in vocational/technical education school-to-work for quite a bit in Monmouth County in the State of New Jersey. I also serve as Vice President of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Schools. I am a member of the State Employment Training Commission. I am Planning Committee Chair on the Monmouth County WIB, which oversees the school-to-work, the one-stop career center, and the literacy subcommittees. So I am very much involved and very concerned in terms of how school-to-work is going to progress as we move into the 21st century.
I am here this morning to provide this Task Force input on the Youth Transition to Work Partnership Program and other related items that will assist the New Jersey State Legislature in developing and funding school-to-work-like programs for the future.
Attached to my written statement, please find summaries of Monmouth County Vocational School District's Youth Transition programs since their inception in 1995. Now, this is since the Legislature and the Roma bill have become a part of the State of New Jersey in terms of school-to-work. Just in those few years-- I am not going to read all of these summary sheets, but some of the questions you have asked, some of the people prior to me testifying in terms of who and how many employers are involved, and whatever-- We have three Youth Transition to Work programs, one in transportation, one in the construction trades, and one in food service.
We have over 120 students involved in these three programs. Already 20 students are registered apprentices in the State of New Jersey, and we have 60 different employers just involved with these three programs. As you can see, the listing of employers-- Assemblyman Azzolina and Assemblyman Corodemus have visited firsthand a number of these employers in Monmouth County -- have made several visitations to our particular facilities. We are very happy to be able to continue to show-- Any other Task Force members who would like to see school-to-work programs firsthand, I myself, or any of the other county vo-tech superintendents, certainly extend an invitation to you to visit those programs.
In addition, the Monmouth County Vocational School District, as well as the other 20 county vo-tech schools, offered a product to our graduates and employers that is unprecedented in the field of education: a student guarantee. There are several brochures up there (indicating table) and if I do not have enough for all of the Task Force members, I can certainly get you some.
We are so confident that our vocational students have attained skill standards necessary for employment that we now guarantee their ability for one full year. Should an employer find one of our graduates deficient in any skill specific to their vocational area, we will gladly retrain that graduate at no cost to either the graduate or the employer. We do stand behind all of our graduates.
I have several recommendations at this particular point in time. As the Task Force meets over the next period of months, I will certainly be more than willing to come back and continue to work with these recommendations, and others, and any other pieces of information that you would like me to bring back to you as a representative of all the 21 county vo-teches.
My first recommendation is that more dollars need to be allocated to vocational-technical training and related educational programs, in particular: adult high schools, English as a second language, and basic skills, for both in-school and out-of-school students. There is no doubt about it that one of our biggest problems still remains, even in a perceived wealthy State as New Jersey is-- We still have many unfortunate young people who have exited our schools, for whatever reasons, lacking the necessary skills. This does not just mean high school dropouts; it also means higher education dropouts and people who have moved into our State from other countries.
So there is going to be a continual need to do literacy types of skills and programs in addition to the vocational-technical types of training.
Incentive grants should be given to consortia partners of county vo-teches and community colleges, only if they have articulated secondary to postsecondary programs and new cosponsored postsecondary programs developed by both institutions.
The State of New Jersey has an incredible wealth that is not even close to being tapped. That is, in every county, there is a county vo-tech and there are 17 or 18 community colleges that represent each of those counties in some fashion. Those two institutions need to work together collaboratively to develop tomorrow's postsecondary programs. Both institutions have, together, the equipment, the facilities, the expertise to do that. Individually, neither can provide the services necessary for our institutions.
So I ask this Task Force to continually see how those two institutions can work together in order to provide such an important service.
A percentage of the grant dollars should be allowed to be deferred until the program evolves in order to have funds available for unanticipated expenses. What I am referring to here is, basically the number of grant programs that have been instituted throughout the past several years do have some rather tight stringents attached to them. In order for systemic change to take place, there needs to be some flexibility.
An incentive, whether it be a reduction of taxes, must be given to the employer for participating in a program.
The Department of Education Grants Management System, which basically oversees these particular grants, must be reviewed and modified to assure a dual purpose:
1) to assure that systemic change and innovation may occur during the grant period, as well as a time period following; and
2) to assure tax dollars are spent appropriately and efficiently.
As the Assembly Task Force continues its mission, I will be more than glad to work with the Task Force in order to provide additional information for the training of in-school and out-of-school secondary students, special needs, disadvantaged students, adults, postsecondary students, as well as customized training for the business world.
I thank you for giving me this opportunity. After Dr. Bistocchi gives his presentation, I will be more than glad to answer any questions the panel may have.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Brian.
One of the students we met on your tour-- I use his statement. No matter where I go, I talk about school-to-work. This was a young man we met at a bakery in Asbury Park -- a young man learning to be a baker. I asked him, "How do your parents feel about you becoming a baker?" He said, "Well, I don't have any parents. I live in a shelter." So I said, "How do the people in the shelter like you becoming a baker?" He said, "Oh, they think it is fantastic." I said, "Why do you like it?" He said, "I like it because when I graduate I know I will be able to take care of myself. There is no one here to take care of me." He felt very confident that when he graduated school, that he would be able to walk into a bakery, assume a job, start taking care of himself, and preparing for his future.
I thought that was a wonderful story, really exemplifying what the goal is in this whole concept of school-to-work.
DR. McANDREW: One of the dilemmas, Assemblyman, is the fact that we offer a considerable number of programs for young people. However, the infatuation that all students are going to go to college definitely is a problem in terms of many young people being pushed on to a particular track, and steered away from any school-to-work type programs and activities.
We have too many young people who are exiting our schools not qualified to go to college nor qualified to go into the school-to-work. That needs to be addressed -- probably the first thing that needs to be addressed as we move up into the 21st century.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Judging by the amount of heads that are shaking in the room, I think you have a lot of people with you. ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I have been saying this for a long time, even before I visited Europe. That is the big problem we have -- too many students going to college who shouldn't even be in college.
By the way, I was at Cape May a couple of weeks ago studying their fish ponds and other shellfish down there. We were brought over to the vo-tech and he said to say hello to you.
DR. McANDREW: Very good. Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: The culinary school cooked a beautiful meal for all of us. It was very good, really.
We have this system in the vo-teches, apparently in most of the counties, which I did not know until I visited your school and down there now. It is a great system.
DR. McANDREW: Yes. The Task Force should get out and visit as many county vo-teches as possible.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: When you see it, you are really impressed.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Dr. Bistocchi, commonly known as my friend, Tom.
ASSEMBLYMAN GARRETT: May I just ask a quick question on the report?
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Yes, Assemblyman.
ASSEMBLYMAN GARRETT: I was looking at your numbers here -- your transportation figures. You have 10 that are in the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training currently, 50 who have gone through the program, 50 who have been involved since it was begun. What happens to the people who are not in the apprenticeship program?
DR. McANDREW: Okay. Apprenticeship programs are not available for everyone, because an apprenticeship program is a partnership between an employer and an employee. The schools that provide the related instruction in the State Department of Labor become, really, a secondary partner, but the apprenticeship really is between the employer and the employee. As a result, some employers are reluctant, for whatever reasons, to become involved in the regulatory apprenticeship program.
More education needs to be provided to them, and an incentive to them. Part of their problems may be dollarwise, that they do not want to commit to a ladder structure of payment for wages as it progresses during the four- to five-year period.
But what happens to these other young people is, 50 percent of our school-to-work youngsters are going on and furthering their education either at Brookdale Community College in various programs that are articulated with us, or to private technical schools in the State of New Jersey, or out of the State of New Jersey. Other students are getting employed in the field, but are not registered apprentices.
T H O M A S B I S T O C C H I, Ed.D.: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Task Force. My name is Tom Bistocchi, and I am Superintendent of the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools. I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the Assembly Task Force on Business Retention, Expansion and Export Opportunities.
Today, I would like to outline two types of programs that currently exist in our setting in Scotch Plains; initially, a description of programs that exist in the mode of Youth Transitions to Work and, secondly, a description of a program that is a partnership between the Department of Labor, the Department of Human Services, the Union County Prosecutor's Office, and our school district. We in Union County feel that both the Youth Transitions to Work programs currently in operation in the areas of allied health, supermarket/food industry technology, electromechanical technology, and culinary arts and our Youth Pride partnership program are excellent examples of vocational-technical experiences that provide our students a smooth transition from school to work.
The primary goal of the Youth Transitions to Work concept is to provide a means by which young people can make the transition from school to a career with a good future by linking education and structured on-the-job training. For the concept to work, there must exist an integration of academic skill training with occupational preparation. That is the school-based component. This integration is designed to improve the academic achievement of students by teaching abstract concepts in the context of concrete, real world examples and experiences, something the Chairman alluded to earlier.
It also provides career exploration and counseling, the selection of a career major, and a sequential program of study with high academic standards. This school-based learning experience must then be linked with a work-based learning experience. The work-based piece ranges from an initial shadowing experience to formalized instruction in general workplace competencies to mentoring to a paid or unpaid work experience.
The final essential component of youth transition to work is a series of connecting activities that are designed to assure that the school- and work-based components of the program work smoothly together to achieve the desired objective. Some of those connecting activities include the coordination of work-based learning opportunities between students and employers, a communication linkage between the student, the school, the employer, and parents, and training for teachers and workplace mentors.
At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to outline some of our school-to-work programs and, in doing so, attempt to relate to you how these programs are providing opportunities for both students and employers -- opportunities that will prove to be a win/win situation for all involved. Our initial experience with youth transition to work was in the area of allied health. We are now in the third year of an ongoing partnership with Muhlenberg Hospital of Plainfield. The initial goals of that program were the opportunity to train and become certified as a Nurse Assistant/Nurse Aide, complete high school, and master competencies for self-sufficiency.
The targeted population for this program has been and continues to be single parents or single pregnant teenagers in secondary school. The program provides a mechanism for child care and has a postsecondary component built into it. Continued health care training and education opportunities are provided for through a partnership with Union County College in related health career areas.
In the first year of the program -- traditionally the student's junior year of high school -- the participant is assigned to a mentor at the hospital site a minimum of three hours per week. This shadowing experience provides an opportunity for the student to become familiar with the workings of the institution, as well as providing a motivation to link their school-based educational program to that workplace.
During the summer after their junior year, many of the students had the opportunity to participate in a paid summer work experience. During the student's senior year, the mentoring program, coupled with a paid work experience, continues. Several of the students who completed the two-year program in June have enrolled in either UMDNJ or Union County College, receiving advanced standing credit through tech prep agreements that have been established with both institutions.
A school-to-work opportunities program must provide participating students with an opportunity to complete career majors. Students must see a career pathway. Please keep that in mind as I outline for you our supermarket/food industry school-to-work/career major program. The curriculum emphasizes the combination of technical training, academic content, and workplace skills.
The standards by which students are measured are linked to the National Skill Standards, alluded to earlier by Dr. Henry. The program includes job shadowing, mentoring, and employment opportunities for students while in school. To be effective, any youth transition to work program must have employer sponsorship. This program exhibits employer involvement, partnership, and leadership. The consortium of partners includes all of the leaders in the industry: Acme Markets, Inc., The Grand Union Company, The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Kings Super Markets, Mayfair/Foodtown, Pathmark Stores, Wakefern Food Corporation, and, representing labor, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local No. 1262.
This program not only has taken on the responsibility of training new employees for the industry, but has also assumed the responsibility of training and retraining existing food industry employees. Our newest undertaking has been the training and retraining of management personnel. All of our employer partners have made a commitment to this youth transition to work program by guaranteeing shadowing and mentoring experiences for all participating students in the beginning of the student's junior year. By the middle of that junior year, all students are guaranteed part-time employment in one of the consortium partners' stores/facilities. That employment is guaranteed through the summer and through the student's senior year. Postsecondary agreements are currently being developed with Union County College and Fairleigh Dickinson University for continuing education. Throughout this two-year program, the career major opportunity ladder is emphasized. Students are continually educated in the understanding of available opportunities to them at the completion of high school, an associate degree program, or at the completion of a baccalaureate degree.
During the 1996-1997 school year, the Union County Vocational-Technical School District will expand its youth transition to work horizons in two new areas, electromechanical technology and culinary arts. Both of these new programs are a result of grants received from the New Jersey Departments of Labor and Education. The electromechanical technology program is another multiple partnership program that includes the Plainfield Public Schools and Union County College as our educational partners. Our initial employer partner is Bayway Refinery. Other employer partners are currently being recruited. Our labor partners include: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local No. 1265, and Teamsters Local No. 877. The area of electromechanical technology was chosen because of the perceived need for workers in that industry.
Department of Labor statistics point to a need for a 33 percent increase in electromechanical technicians through the year 2005. During this initial year of the program, junior level students will begin their shadowing experiences at Bayway. A summer work experience for 1997 is currently being developed. A math/science instructional component kicked off the program during the past summer. Students also spent some time at Bayway and the Liberty Science Center as an orientation to this new program.
Our other new youth transition to work program began this month in the area of culinary arts. As a need continues to rise for service industry personnel, the development of culinary arts becomes a logical training arena. As we began the search for employer partners to assist us in the work-based learning portion of this program, we found no shortage of businesses willing to share their expertise and commitment.
At the present time, we have established partnerships with eight businesses willing to provide mentoring and part-time work experiences for our students. This coordination of school-based and work-based learning experiences is an easy sell to students, parents, and employers. The integration of academics with the technical curriculum ensures a more complete, better trained student. The emphasis on standards in all technical training programs will come closer to guaranteeing employers an appropriately trained workforce. The partnerships that we are establishing with employers and labor unions will help solidify the county vocational-technical school districts as leaders in the youth transition to work/school-to-work movement.
A final program I would like to call to your attention is a partnership that was established on the campus of the Union County vo-tech in the summer of 1995. The Youth Pride program grew out of a need to address a specific population, those young people who had dropped out of high school, had little or no job skills, and had run afoul of the law. The partnership included: the Union County Prosecutor's Office, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Union County vocational-technical schools. The outgrowth of this partnership has been the creation of the Union County Vocational-Technical Adult High School. In Union County, at least 11 percent of the adult population have less than an 8th grade education. That numbers 36,400 adults. Those are 1990 census figures.
When we looked at the number of adults without a high school diploma in our county, the staggering percentage of 25 percent appeared, over 100,000 adults. This new program not only begins to address the need for providing an academic education, but it is coupled with the vocational-technical component that provides training to these young adults. Programs of this nature -- those that address the needs of specific populations -- need to be nurtured and supported. This program will reduce delinquency and recidivism while promoting accountability and rehabilitation for at-risk youth. Our society has tired of the social, moral, and economic costs associated with unguided juveniles and has demanded government and education agencies address the needs of the youth involved and at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system. This program addresses that concern in a county vocational-technical school setting.
It has been my intent in this testimony to describe to you some new youth apprenticeship/school-to-work models that have been well conceived and well received. The partnerships between labor, business and industry, and the educational communities are falling into place in a way that the model demands. We are moving in a most positive direction and we are moving in that direction in unison.
Thank you for your continued support of our efforts, and for your patience and attention today.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Doctor.
You can see from the testimony today that we are getting a broad spectrum of resources in this program. We are probably going to do some type of strategic planning after we hear all of this testimony, but ultimately we will be soliciting recommendations, like you made, Dr. McAndrew, for where we go from here. You are probably a little bit ahead of the Task Force as far as having at your fingertips all of the existing programs under the private/public umbrella that touches on these programs.
Are there any questions from the panel? Yes?
DR. BLOOM: In your opinion, your experience, do we blur the lines between college and noncollege--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: You have to use your microphone or we won't hear you.
DR. BLOOM: I'm sorry.
Do we blur the lines between the college bound and the noncollege bound, or do we continue going down separate tracks? I think that is what is confounding--
DR. McANDREW: What we are finding is that many of the-- I indicated that I had 27 years in vocational-technical education with Monmouth County Vo-Tech. During, I would say, the first 10 years, virtually no students from the county vo-tech went on to further their education.
Today, of all of our vocational-technical types of programs we offer, over 50 percent of our students further their education. Now, this is good and it's bad. It is good when the program they are taking at the higher educational level is articulated with the program they are taking at the secondary level and it is all a part of the career path that Dr. Bistocchi has mentioned. Okay?
It is bad when the students are just exiting high school and thinking everybody thinks they are supposed to go on to further their education. As a result, we have literally thousands of young people who are entering college doors today not having the foggiest idea what they are doing, too many of them enrolled in remedial types of programs, when they should not have been there in the first place. That is the problem I see.
DR. BISTOCCHI: One of our responsibilities in the whole school-to-work mode is to point to a career major pathway. Some of our students who graduate will be ready to go to work; some of them will want to go to the next level to get the next level job, and so on. What we found, and we are attempting to do in establishing career majors in all of our technical areas, is to show that career major pathway. At the end of secondary school, this is one branch of the tree that you can jump off of. You can climb a little bit further with an associate degree and go to the next level, baccalaureate degree, etc.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: I think what we saw in Europe was that the educational process never ends. Even after someone finished their dual-track school system and went on to full-time employment, it was a regular course of business that they were coming back to the schools for retraining, because the technology kept advancing and they had to keep advancing with it. Otherwise, they could not perform at the job site.
That was part of the whole system. There was a nice symbiosis between the workplace and the schools -- the whole partnership there, the six- or seven-component partnership. This kept going on and on. They are very proud of the fact that this is a -- I forget the catchphrase they call it, but a lifelong learning process.
DR. McANDREW: I would venture to say that we have as good, if not better an educational transitional program than any country in the world. The problem is, we do not have enough young people opting for that route. That is where I think the problem lies. What we are seeing today is that we just don't have enough young people who are committed and moving into this type of a system. That is what we are hoping to see in the career path, and what Ellen Schechter mentioned in terms of what is going to take place, particularly at the elementary level.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Well, they're there, and you know they're there. It is just that these opportunities have not been made available to them. Perhaps this is our opportunity to open doors for them that they never knew existed.
MR. SCHATTNER: I am curious. I am an employer down in Burlington County. One of the things that seems to come across is that we are, perhaps, making these people second-class citizens. I am wondering if we are not involved in some sort of a cultural problem here where, in the 1000-year European phenomenon, the trades in Europe are well thought of, whereas some of the trades in this country, especially since World War II, have been classified second-class. After World War II, if you didn't go to college and get a typical academic training program, you were not well thought of. I am wondering if we have to change a little bit of this perception.
DR. McANDREW: I think we all play a negative role in terms of what is happening to our youth today. We have some of our top CEOs out there telling the whole world that there are not enough trained people to take the particular positions they have. We have government and the Department of Education all basically rewarding those who go on and further their education.
We live in a society which is basically saying, "You need to go on and get a higher education. If you don't, you are a failure." As a result, everyone else is left, in terms of what is left for them. If we really, truly believe school-to-work and that a person does not need a higher education in order to achieve those particular goals, then we need to begin to redirect some of the resources, and the dollars we put behind a student at a higher education level, and begin to put that kind of money behind the student who is going out to school-to-work. We do not even come close to supporting our school-to-work population versus our higher ed population.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: That is where the community college comes in, I believe, working together. That's it.
DR. McANDREW: Most definitely.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Just quick comments. If you can make them short, go right ahead.
MR. SHERIDAN: I will be very quick.
If you go to the Smithsonian and look at the lunar capsule, and if you go to your Ford dealership and look under the Ford pickup's hood, they are increasingly looking alike. We talked before about high tech and engineering. I saw in your statistics that you have quite a few automotive programs. I have talked to owners of garages who can't find talented mechanics, and, worse than that, they can't find mechanics who can understand the diagnostic tools and the other mechanical automotive trade instruments you use.
You know, your comment before about the fact that we are taking steps now to lay a future enrollment increase, is appropriate, but I am very concerned that we must do something proactively to encourage today's student population who are not going to go on to higher education, to take this step, to embrace it as a future.
DR. McANDREW: You are going to have to assure them that there is a career path if they are going to exit from high school. We are basically getting employers asking us for the qualities of students who are going on to further education, leaving those students who do not have, or have not passed the basic skills types of programs left for the entry work market. Okay? That needs to change. We need to be able to-- When your Lucent Technologies and your Bell Atlantics talk about not having enough trained workers out there, they need to step up and tell these young people what the career path is going to be, what the earnings are going to be now and five years from now, ten years from now, what their opportunities are to increase themselves and to better themselves in this particular industry.
We are not hearing that. What we are hearing is, "There aren't enough qualified, trained workers, and we have to seek them out somewhere else." That does not solve the problem. We need to clearly delineate to these young people what a career path is and what exists out there for them. To be frankly honest with you, as Superintendent of a county vo-tech schools, I am having great difficulty understanding what the career paths are for young people who do not go on to college. There are too many businesses and industries that have not clearly labeled that and allowed that to evolve for these young people.
DR. SIMKO: Just a quick comment. I teach at Monmouth University. I have been there for 18 years. I think the future really lies in trying to shorten the differences. There is not necessarily a mutual exclusiveness between vo-tech training and a career path and a college degree, a baccalaureate along many different dimensions.
I would like to see that narrowed and integrated. I think part of the problem is -- and, you know, I will take part of the responsibility on that -- the development of the admissions criteria, not only for four-year colleges, but for community colleges as well. These people are admitted and then, you know, they are wandering around with no place to go.
However, over the years, I have seen, through the cooperative education programs that our university has developed with local businesses, people coming in who are specialized in very, very specific vocational skills who go on to -- I don't want to say bigger and better things, but different things, things they never made the connection with. I have an MPA student right now who started off repairing transmissions, and he is on the verge of buying his own business in West Long Branch. He wants planning skills, financing skills, and budgeting skills. So maybe in the long run another strategy, in addition to those both of you gentlemen suggested, is to try to integrate the curriculum.
I think the key is curriculum development. There is no reason why there can't be an academically based curriculum that shows business planning, critical thinking, articulation, and, you know, just speaking before groups, working with people, and management with the vocational. It is almost as if the word vocational, again, detracts from what vocational is all about. Maybe we need to invent a new term that makes it different. But this perception is a reality.
DR. BISTOCCHI: Your comments and the gentleman before you--- Some of what we are talking about in terms of nurturing and providing school-to-work opportunities alleviates some of the problems we are talking about. Get me an auto mechanic who can get here on time, get here every day, have a positive work ethic, lift up the hood, and deal with the 17 computers that are under the hood.
We can provide that once we have a fully extended school-to-work component in all of our technical programs. That necessitates the marriage of labor, business and industry, and the public education sector. Then we will have the answers, because what we do is, we sit down in a school-to-work process and we decipher what the needs of the employer are. We go back to the institution and we address those needs.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: You will have to make that the last comment.
DR. McANDREW: Just to give you one little example in terms of how you can help the young person who has just exited high school: A young person who goes to college -- okay? -- is attached to his parents' health insurance, but there are many who aren't. Colleges have an opportunity to be able to provide very cheap health care through various universal policies. There is no such thing for the young person who is out there on the street all by himself -- 19, 20, 21 years old, who doesn't have a parent with health insurance. The employer is not willing to put that risk behind him or her at this particular point in time. This is what you need to do. This is where we need to move along in terms of assisting that young person.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming here today.
We are now going to hear from Dr. Bob Messina, Burlington County College; Bob Santare, President, Champion Fasteners; and our friends from the AFL-CIO are on deck next. Are they here today? Linda Mason, Deborah, Robert, Jerome -- are you still here? (affirmative responses from audience) Okay, you folks are up next.
R O B E R T S A N T A R E: Good morning. My name is Bob Santare. I am President of Champion Fasteners in Mount Holly, New Jersey. We are a small manufacturer of specialty fasteners that are sold internationally.
The reason for my--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Could you just give us an example of what that is? What is a specialty fastener, so I know?
MR. SANTARE: Sure. We will make a nut or a bolt, but it conforms to a print. Most of our customers are original equipment manufacturers such as McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, elevator companies.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you.
MR. SANTARE: Champion Fasteners, about four years ago, partnered with Burlington County College. Basically, it was a grant that the college received. What it was for was, we were a defense supplier, and it was to retrain people in my employ who were going to be laid off. However, we made a very unique transition, where most of the military parts we were manufacturing-- Through a sales effort, we were able to get commercial and more practical fasteners moved into this area.
What we did with Burlington County College was, we built a classroom right inside the manufacturing plant. This is where the school-to-work was incorporated and also the apprenticeship programs.
I will be brief. Basically, the way this whole thing worked was, the college supplied a coordinator who I worked closely with. We looked at the opportunities in the job market, not only for my industry, but for other industries in the area. That helped us to be able to select the courses we were going to offer. These courses, in my plant, were offered to between 350 and 400 Burlington County residents. They have gone through these courses. We are compiling numbers right now, but we feel we have about an 80 percent success rate in employment.
The college also supplies the instructor and puts together the classroom curriculum. When a candidate is suitable and has gone through all the classroom-- To give you an example, if it is a basic machinist and he knows how to read micrometers, blueprints, use the correct terms and lingo on the shop floor, we bring him out and he goes one-on-one with my men with some on-hands training.
At the end of this, there is a certificate that is given by the college that this person has been trained, whether it be a tool and die maker, machinist, or whatever. We have also been accredited by some equipment manufacturers where we have incorporated their training program into the Burlington County College curriculum, and they have awarded and given certificates out.
As far as who goes to these, we have had 3rd grade to 8th grade children in there, just walking through the manufacturing plant to see if they have any idea what they want to do when they go into high school, whether they want to go to a vocational school or a traditional high school. We have had all the local high schools tour. They bring school buses over, and they get to see what a manufacturing environment is all about before even making some kind of a commitment to the school-to-work program we have going on there.
The other thing that is nice about the partnership is, it is open-ended. They can continue their education. My employees, some of them who wanted to upgrade their skills, have gone through the training program with the college, and then some we have hired through there have also been able to go on to night school over at the Community College to upgrade their computer skills. We have some people who are in some (indiscernible) programs over there, and then they come back and incorporate them into the workforce.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Do you get paid to do this by the county?
MR. SANTARE: No.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Well, why did you get involved with this? What interested you in doing this?
MR. SANTARE: Well, I did it in the best interest of my business. I have an older workforce. I have tool and die makers who are retiring within the next couple of years. I am not getting any immediate benefits out of this, but we are doing it for the long term. We want to be around for a long time.
The other thing, too, is, what is really unique about this program is the willingness of the employees at Champion Fasteners to show someone their skills. Most of these guys are getting to be a little bit older now and they are getting to the retirement age. They are taking these -- you know, whether it is someone coming out of high school, someone we got from the college who went there for two years and cannot find employment, or a displaced worker-- They are showing them, with enthusiasm, their skills and their trades. It has been working pretty well that way.
As far as, you know, what we heard before about justice to the community, we feel we are doing our part with the community, but really the whole purpose of this is to build a workforce in our community, not only for Champion Fasteners, but for surrounding businesses, so we can all thrive.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you.
MR. SANTARE: You're welcome.
R O B E R T M E S S I N A, Ph.D.: Good morning. I am Bob Messina, President of Burlington County College.
What I am going to do is just talk to you about some of the partnerships we have with the various sectors in our county, and then make some recommendations that speak specifically to your report.
Prior to my coming to New Jersey, I was in New York State -- upstate New York. I worked with IBM on the Southern Tier Regional Development Council for about three years. Prior to that, I worked with the Nassau/Suffolk Economic Development Council, which is a coalition of educational organizations and business organizations, of approximately -- over a million and a half people.
I notice that under the report, Burlington is listed in Section 7, which has about 36,000 businesses. I think there are 205,000 businesses in the State of New Jersey. One of the things I suggest is that maybe you get a little bit more representation from South Jersey on the Executive Task Force. I think we comprise almost 33 percent, or maybe close to 40 percent of the businesses.
It is nice to see Bob up there.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Oh, we have a few more. They are not here today.
DR. MESSINA: I know you have four.
One of the things is, looking at the stats, the business development actually in South Jersey is growing, specifically in Ocean County, Burlington County, Camden County, and Atlantic County. The needs of South Jersey are uniquely different from the needs of North Jersey.
One of the partnerships we have, right off the top, is probably the most unique partnership in higher education. It is our Technical Education Center, an $11 million center, that opened up last year with NJIT. There we train not only people at the associate degree level in engineering and technology, but at the baccalaureate level and the master's level. This has been phenomenally successful. We started out projecting that we would only have approximately 1500 students by this time. We have over 2500 students at that location, and we probably need to expand those facilities.
We also have planned to build, with a Federal grant of approximately $2.7 million, a business development center to train, or to nurture small businesses so they can become larger businesses that we can put out into the community and use some of the resources that we plan to have in operation a year and a half from now.
We have also gone into partnership with the Urban Enterprise Zone in Mount Holly. We are one of the prime forces in that. We are happy to report that in less than six months operation, the UEZ has generated over $1.5 million.
We also have a partnership with Mount Holly 2000, which is a kind of unique situation trying to improve the housing in Mount Holly. The premise there is to improve the housing, reduce the crime rate, and attract more businesses.
We are also in partnership with the marine industry in Burlington County. Most of the marine business, as we found out from our own research, is centered in Burlington County. I think seven of the manufacturers in the marine industry reside in Burlington, or close to it.
We have partnerships with the military, specifically Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. Right now, we are forming a training program in automotive technology through distance education through the advanced training facilities of the National Guard and the regular Army at Fort Dix.
We have partnerships with nursing and medical technology with the hospitals. We have partnerships with K-12. We have partnerships with the library. We are integrated into the library not only in the county, but outside the county, and in other states. We have partnerships in training at schools. We are a distance learning leader. We have seven distance learning classrooms.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Dr. Messina, let me interrupt you for a second. I am starting to get an idea of the flow of students there. What is the partnership with the K-12 like? Maybe you can explain to us what that is about.
DR. MESSINA: The partnership -- some of the partnership -- one that Bob just described-- We have two school-to-factory models, one with Champion Fasteners and the other with J and S Precision in Medford. At his location, we have trained over 300 to 400 students who have gone through that program.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Give me a profile of what a typical student would be like?
DR. MESSINA: A student is either someone coming -- someone who may have been in the vo-tech or someone who has been unemployed in the workforce. I think probably it is almost maybe a 75/25 split, 75 percent out of those who are unemployed, and 25 percent coming out of the vo-tech. The program is generated with Federal funds. We are one of the few colleges in the country to get an ARPA grant for $3.2 million. That helped us to set up the school-to-work transition factory at Champion and at J and S Precision.
Also, Bob is very modest. He took a small business that had gone under in Burlington County and, through his partners, built it up to where he has about 75 employees. What is your payroll like, Bob?
MR. SANTARE: We are over $1.5 million in payroll.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: What was the K-12 program again?
DR. MESSINA: The K-12 program we have now is interactive video classrooms with about seven or eight school districts. We are also training -- involved with the vo-tech on bakery programs, automotive technology programs, horticulture programs, and also early childhood education.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: You start off in kindergarten exposing the students to different trades?
DR. MESSINA: Well, one of the things-- Bob has some of the students come through very early in the elementary school -- coming into his facility, and also through J and S Precision.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Is that like a one-day tour a year?
DR. MESSINA: Yes.
We also have a program for-- The college runs a program for young women between the 7th grade and the 12th grade. Twice a year, we bring in outside speakers to expose them to different businesses and industry, not just in academia, but also in the trades. For example, we had some female sheet metal workers come in to speak to students, women starting up their own business.
One of the things we are starting at the college -- and we will be working with the high schools-- We will have the first entrepreneurial studies degree, I think, in the Northeast. We just put that into the President's Council to get it approved. That will be at all levels, not just to an associate's degree, but a certificate program and less. The idea is that we can take anyone who would like to start up his or her own business and help them to develop business plans, sit down and do cost estimation, and not have to go through the full two years, not even a year. It depends upon where they are, their structure. This will help businesses that-- For example, if a person comes in who has great trade skills, but who has poor business practices. A major reason for businesses going under is the poor business practices. So we want to couple this with some of the vocational schools.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: I think my experience with the community colleges has been largely focused on the Job Training Partnership Acts, the grants that are given through the Department of Labor.
Do you see the community colleges part of that continuum of training from vocational schools upon completion of grade 12 and carrying on? Where do you see your role in school-to-work?
DR. MESSINA: One of the recommendations -- I might as well jump to that recommendation -- is-- Most of these things we have initiated at Burlington County has been with almost zero State assistance. We have not partaken in any school-to-work transition programs. Basically, the way they are administered right now, they are too cumbersome, and sometimes people bypass your input. I know a lot of times I am asked to sign a grant that I have absolutely no participation in. Right now, we are trying to change that through the WIB. Bob Santare is the Chair of the WIB, and Bob Schattner is the Vice Chair of the WIB. We are going to try to coordinate more of those.
All of these things that we have effected in Burlington County have been out of Burlington County College's own initiatives or through Federal grant programs. Almost nothing through the State. So where I see myself, we would like to see some support, starting with funding. I think I will take a page out of one of the superintendent's books. If we really think school-to-work is important, then we have to change the funding emphasis.
A community college student gets, from the State, $926 per student. That's it. That is what I get for technology included. Do you know what level of support we give to professional programs? Seventy-four thousand dollars per student. So we think someone going to a professional program is 74 times more important than someone in a technical program. If you want to change the culture, then you have to change the flow of dollars. It is as simple as that.
The community colleges -- and we have been saying this for the last couple of years -- educate almost 55 percent of the students in this State, and get less than 9 percent of the funding. That has to change and, quite frankly, that has to change out of the Legislature, both on the Assembly side and the Senate side, because you folks vote for the budget. I don't.
One of the things that would help would be if we could make the grant process -- because those dollars flow from Washington through the Department of Education -- would be to set up an interagency or some interdepartmental process that approves the grant. Burlington County College was selected as one of three colleges in the country to go and make a presentation on school-to-work before Secretary of Education Riley. Bob was with me in Washington. What we found out from the other two schools, one from Tennessee and one from Texas, was that their systems are much more closely integrated. There is much more appreciation for the community college and much more support from the political system. They were doing some wonderful things.
As a matter of fact, one of the community colleges in Tennessee called me about a new business that was moving into our county. It was a glass company. That company expected the same cooperation that they got from the community college in Tennessee. It was about a 48-hour turnaround time to set up some programs. So if we could get more assistance from the State on that.
The other thing is, I notice in the report-- One of the things when we were going through the ARPA grant, there was a serious lack of information, especially about small businesses. I would suggest allowing the community colleges to become the information centers for business and industry in their counties, basically because they have the equipment, they have the computers, they know the people in the counties, and they can be very, very instrumental in forming information that is critical to the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor in trying to attract business and industry to that particular area.
Another one is: Let the community college become more entrepreneurial. I am about ready to build a videoconference center. I have been approached by an outside business to form a partnership. But because of the current laws, or because of the culture, it is very, very hard for a public entity institution to go out and form that partnership. I think the Assembly and the Senate need to help to educate politicians at the local level to see that that is important to the tax base of that organization or that county, to think of new ways of thinking. In other words, it is not just getting out of the box in terms of the educational system to think new ways. You have to think of new ways in the political system, too.
So if you want us to do our job, I think you have to reciprocate and do some different thinking on your side.
Make more use of the resource of the community colleges. One of the things I learned from my experience in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia is that they use the community college system extensively. If they want to do training, they turn to the community colleges. Florida has mandated that. Georgia also, for example, gives part of the grant funds to students through their lottery system that they have introduced. I am not saying to go take our -- although it would not be a bad choice to use some of those funds from the State Lottery system for education. That would help students to make those career decisions. I think what we would like to do is make a system which is integrated, that allows a student to make those choices that they can go into a trade, that they can go into a plumbing or carpentry trade with business skills and make $150,000 a year.
I think that once we start advertising how much you can make in the trades to parents, maybe the stigma of not going to college could be lessened, especially as they spent, maybe, $50,000 or $100,000 on a baccalaureate degree and their offspring are making $22,000 a year at a job. The economy of scale just doesn't work for a lot of parents.
I would allow for more innovative public partnerships. I would bring in more people from business and industry to talk to students about what they are doing. I would encourage more entrepreneurial programs.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you.
Are there any questions from the panel?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I have a question.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Good, Steve.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Dr. Messina, if I may, you heard-- I presume you were present when Dr. McAndrew was talking with regard to the vocational school concepts, funding, and so forth. Is there not a real issue in this State with regard to -- let us use what I would say, critical mass issues in terms of you running your institution and he running his institution and this process of which students go where and the duplicity that exists in terms of overlapping programs and cost issues associated with that? You alluded to some funding issues before, but you didn't-- You presented one side of the equation, but not the other. The vocational system is fairly well funded in this State, is it not?
DR. MESSINA: I believe so. I am not privy to all of their numbers, but I know that almost any institution set up in this State gets more than a community college. I can be pretty accurate in that statement.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Well, I thought I heard something to the effect that maybe we could take money away from the community colleges, you know, to put them into the vo-tech schools. How do you feel about that?
DR. MESSINA: Maybe you should make that presentation to the community colleges' presidents. I think it is ludicrous as a suggestion. One of the things that we are struggling for right now is funding in the community colleges. And one of the things that we feel pretty good about is that we do handle a lot of remedial students. What is not known too well is that in our school, for example, when we do get those students coming in with deficiencies who would like to go into other areas, we have a highly computerized system. We have had an 86 percent success rate in one semester with those students. That means that those students who go through the program are successful, and have the same frequency of success as those who did not need remediation.
Usually, it is not people with 3rd and 4th grade educations. It is people who just dropped out of the system, they had no incentive, and they wake up two years later, or three years later, and they say, "I don't want to work at McDonald's anymore. I want to get something different, that pays a little bit more."
Funding is a problem in this State. As I say to my own county folks -- and I will say the same thing to you -- it is the priority. I don't think any part of education should be cut back, because education is a long-term solution. Other dollars that you put into, say, correctional institutions, are short term.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you.
DR. BLOOM: Is it all right--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Go ahead.
DR. BLOOM: Mr. Santare, a question: How do you make the transition from the tool and die -- and if you have done it, I am curious -- to the stereolithography that you need to make, and as the technology continues to improve, what have you done with your company to continue to move the integration of technology into the workplace so you could be competitive and efficient? Let's hear how you have done that a bit.
MR. SANTARE: That is where the partnership continues. I send my people over to the partnership that you have with BCC, or utilize the tech center. Then, also, over at the Pemberton campus with some of the computer technologies, the CAD, you know, for the drawings and those kinds of things. As you can see, this whole partnership continues to stay integrated. You know, my people get their skills upgraded and are able to go through some of the courses that the college is offering right inside my plant.
It is pretty unique, and I welcome anyone from the Task Force, if they would like to, to come down to see Champion Fasteners and the classroom that Burlington County College has built right inside my manufacturing plant, and maybe interact with some of the students. That is what we are all here for. I think we should start talking to some of the people who went through the youth-to-work program or some of the ones who dropped out of the Community College who immediately got into the workforce through some of these programs we have initiated.
DR. SIMKO: Dr. Messina, just a quick observation: Monmouth University, for a number of years, has had an articulation agreement with Brookdale Community College. Perhaps one of the ways in the future would be to try to develop technical training programs which basically establish the core curriculum, the basic foundations of the Community College, and then go ahead and refine their skills as you make the transition from having the basic skills in hand to getting a baccalaureate for those who want to go on for a baccalaureate.
I get distressed sometimes when I hear the forcing of a further demarcation between four-year institutions and community colleges. I think we should go in the opposite direction.
DR. MESSINA: Well, I think one of the things that is going to have to take place-- I was also at the session in Princeton. One thing that was impressed on us by Dr. Adlington (phonetic spelling), of Princeton University, showed economic development at the top of the chart and showed where education came in, and that you cannot have a healthy economy in the State without having a good base education. I think everyone agrees with that.
What I think, though, is important, is that there be some input from the outside on the curriculum development, not only in the vocational schools, but in the colleges, as to-- The students ask this all the time: "How is what I am learning relevant to what I am going to do in the workforce?" As you know and I know, you are going to have some philosophy doctors sit there and say, "Well, take my philosophy, because Socrates and Plato are important." Well, you know, the bottom line is, it is not important to that student, and it is very hard to press the business and say, "Here are Socrates and Plato." I know we can have a nice debate here about the willingness to learn and how it makes you a better person, but maybe what it means is that you have to take your philosophy course and take a look at transforming that into the ethics of business, the ethics of medicine. There are enough things that happen on a day-to-day basis to make those courses interesting and meaningful to students and then relevant to the workplace.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you very much, Doctor.
MR. SANTARE: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Thank you, Mr. Santare.
DR. MESSINA: Thank you for allowing us to testify.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Linda, Deborah, Robert, and Jerome. Jerome, maybe you can pull a chair up there with you so there is room for the four of you.
L I N D A M A S O N: Hi. I am Linda Mason with the New Jersey AFL-CIO. Charlie Wowkanech is unable to be here today.
I would like to introduce our panel of labor experts. We have Deborah--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Linda, pull that mike a little bit closer to you. (witness complies) That's it.
MS. MASON: Deborah Araujo, who is the National Coordinator with the Human Resources Development Institute, AFL-CIO, in Washington, D.C. Next to here is Jerome Page, who is with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, Local No. 54, in Atlantic City. We have Bob Reeve, who is the Apprenticeship Coordinator, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local No. 9, in Englishtown, New Jersey.
I think what we have to offer is a little bit different from some of the testimony that you heard this morning. The bottom line for labor is jobs. Are there enough jobs to accommodate the large influx of new workers, either young or older, into the current market, you know, in the building and construction trades? There is a 30 percent unemployment rate among carpenters and others. The effect of that is that in many existing apprenticeship programs the enrollment is shrinking. There is an inability to place even the prime candidates for journeymen in jobs, because there are just not enough jobs.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Everyone is going to have to talk louder. I had this problem yesterday, with whatever problem is going on up there. Get closer to the mike.
MS. MASON: You know, we lobbied hard for the cigarette tax increase in the last session with the hope of getting the funding for the refurbishment and reconstruction of schools. For us, it would have meant 150,000 new jobs. The bottom line is, again, we do support, and we would like to see, more funding go into the training programs. It must be concurrent with an expansion in the market in order for existing workers, as well as new workers to be equally and appropriately accommodated.
Let me begin with Deborah.
D E B O R A H A R A U J O: Good afternoon, at this point. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today.
My name is Deborah Araujo. I am a school-to-work coordinator with the Human Resource Development Institute, which is the employment and training arm of the AFL-CIO.
Organized labor support for public education, including well-thought-out, inclusive education reform initiatives, has a long-standing history. Additionally, workers in our unions have a vested interest in how we prepare the workforce of the future. It is concern with these two items that brought me here today.
States are struggling with school-to-work at all phases -- planning, development, and implementation. Repeatedly, supporters of school-to-work initiatives have turned to Europe, to Germany's dual system of education and training in particular, as a model for linking education with workforce preparedness.
While the German apprenticeship model is impressive and may be worthy of replication, with 70 percent of all German students choosing the dual system for additional education and employment training, and 20 percent of all German firms training young apprentices, there are several underlying foundation elements of the German system that tend to be overlooked or ignored when borrowing from the German model.
If in our haste to emulate a German model key elements are modified to an extreme or omitted entirely, efforts to establish a system not identical, but of comparable worth and success to the German system, cannot succeed. Certainly, there are components of the German system that are not compatible nor desirable with our unique cultural climate. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned.
The premise for occupational training in Germany is the acknowledgment that a highly skilled workforce is a major resource for Germany's productivity and competitiveness in a global economy. The training of this highly skilled workforce is the responsibility of a social partnership. Trade unions, employers, and government work as equal partners to set training policy, establish training standards, and implement training practices.
The partnership is based on the principle of cooperation. There is no hierarchy among partners. Each retains its independence, with one equal vote on all matters. Decisions are reached through consensus. Unions and employers codetermine vocational training aims and content. When jobs must be redefined due to technological changes, union and industry must be in total agreement on the redefinitions.
Upon agreement, the government orders the Federal Institute for Vocational Training, in conjunction with union and employer experts, to develop occupation design and curriculum. The government releases the occupational curriculum as a binding regulation with national minimum standards.
Trade unions have specific roles and responsibilities within the partnership. As delegates to the Federal Institute for Vocational Training, unionists design and implement practical strategic and policy-making decisions affecting training. They participate in the content and level of difficulty of exit examinations, thereby controlling the quality standard of the training.
Trade unionists participate as final examiners, conducting the oral, written, and practical portions of final exams. Quality and duration of apprenticeships are updated and increased usually through the initiatives of the unions. Still, trade unionists provide practical instruction at the work site.
Through the Works Council, unions assure that individual apprentices may enforce their right to comprehensive training if they are not satisfied with the quality of the training or the training arrangements. Works Councils also see that the necessary training equipment and environment are provided by the companies. This codetermination process recognizes the joint interest of workers and employers in establishing high training standards and effective training practices.
High standard, quality training requires serious financing. The substantial training costs are carried by the direct beneficiaries of the skilled labor pool -- the companies and employers. Every German company is required, by law, to joint a chamber of similar enterprises and share in the cost of training. The actual costs of training apply only to the companies that have apprentices.
Vocational schools, which provide theoretical and general education training are funded by the government. German employers fund the in-company training with impressive net costs. In 1992 alone, government and industry invested the equivalent of $17 billion in the dual apprenticeship system. The training costs of each apprentice are placed at approximately $102,000 over a two to three and a half year training period. The institutionalized acceptance of the need for a skilled workforce by employers, workers, and government demand adequate funding for high standard, quality workforce preparedness.
Rigorous academic standards and high academic achievement are integral to the German dual system. Three schooling certificates are recognized and utilized nationwide by employers, who use them as first-selection criteria. The certificates require achievement in 10 subject areas, including: mathematics, foreign language, and science. The utilization by employers of academic records for the selection of candidates to the apprenticeship system provides a major incentive for German students to attain high levels of achievement.
Actual in-company training does not begin until compulsory school-based education is finished. Once a student is accepted and enrolled in an apprenticeship, German law requires that in-company training be accompanied by school-based theoretical training, with additional general education training in mathematics and language.
Vocational schooling on a part-time basis is mandatory for all youth under 18 years of age who are not in general full-time schooling or have not undertaken full-time vocational training for one year. This approach assures that all youth will undergo additional education after school leaving at the age of 15 or 16.
How does this compare with school-to-work initiatives around this country? In the challenge of state leadership for school-to-work opportunities systems, the Council of Chief State School Officers reports that representative partnerships, including organized labor, are critical to the successful design and implementation of school-to-work systems. States have acknowledged struggling to set up truly inclusive school-to-work partnerships. Labor, as well as certain other groups, is consistently left out, despite the message conveyed at the CSSO school-to-work conference last May that states without an AFL-CIO representative in their school-to-work partnerships did not receive implementation grants and would not pass muster with school-to-work peer review.
Unions have much to offer in areas of policy, governance, and implementation of school-to-work opportunities. Unions have expertise in joint labor management apprenticeships, establishing stringent skills standards, and developing training programs that result in portable credentials that are recognized nationwide. School-to-work initiatives must not compete with or undermine joint labor management registered apprenticeships.
In terms of maintaining high academic standards, I think we could all agree that a student's most important job in this country is school. It isn't enough to simply say that they need to achieve high academic standards or benchmarks. We need to provide them with the tools and the mechanisms to do that.
The work-based learning component that is part of school-to-work should not compete for the student's time to achieve academic excellence. Numerous studies have indicated that as the hours that a youth works approaches 20 hours a week, there is a decline in grades, a lack of interest in school, negative social behaviors, increased alcohol and drug use, and negative attitudes toward the work site. Several studies and reports have strongly recommended limiting the number of hours that youth work while in school full-time to no more than 15 hours a week. Without that assurance, we have a situation now where we have 70 percent of the juniors and seniors presently working, for the extra money to support a car or whatever-- It is detracting from time they need to spend on their studies, and on extracurricular activities, which supports the holistic approach to youth development.
In listening to some of the comments today, I would just like to raise a few questions myself. Perhaps they have also crossed your minds. I was sitting here listening to a gentleman who told us that some of the programs that were in place, through ITTW or a youth apprenticeship program, were not refunded because partnerships fell apart. Certainly, if an appropriate entity or an appropriate partnership, particularly as mandated by school-to-work, does not exist, then I would support the cutting off of the dollars. It takes tremendous courage to say to a program, "If you don't have your partnership in place, if you do not have the appropriate players at the table, we will not fund." But perhaps what is even more important is to go back and ask why the partnership fell apart. At what point did it begin to unravel? At what point were expectations not being met?
And, to tie into Linda's earlier comment about jobs, it is very dangerous to build both students' and parents' expectations that by adding a work-based learning component to the school-to-work program that students have some type of guarantee of employment, particularly through the misuse of the term apprenticeship. As you know, the registered joint apprenticeships that are traditional to the building and construction trades, and other joint labor management efforts, come with some type of placement guarantee at the end of the training period. We do not train simply for the sake of training. We do not train simply to spend money. We train because jobs exist. It will simply be one more broken promise to youth, if they are under the impression that the programs they are going through are, indeed, somehow related to a legitimate registered apprenticeship program with some type of employment guaranteed at the end.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Let me ask you this, Deborah: Having heard the problem -- which is no secret to you, you have heard it before -- that there are certain shortages of skilled workers, and some companies feel compelled to bring workers in from out of the country-- Being a parent -- I don't know if you are a parent -- being a parent and seeing my children go through school with complaints about the relevancy of education, do you see any purpose in school-to-work filling the needs of this country, the needs of the students, the needs of employers, the needs of employees?
MS. ARAUJO: Certainly, I think school-to-work is of value if the work-based learning component enhances the overall learning experience of the student, particularly in terms of employability skills and the development of scan skills, the idea of responsibility, punctuality, basic work preparedness. I am very leery of school-to-work programs that tend to focus on industry-specific skills. I prefer the broad-based cluster approach, when at all possible, to result in transferable skills from one industry or one sector to another.
I did have a problem with a comment earlier about people having trouble finding skilled labor and, therefore, having to hire from outside. It raises the question: What are we doing for our incumbent workers? Certainly, one of the standards that I always utilize when looking at an employer or company as a partnership in school-to-work, is: What is their commitment to training to begin with? If there is no training or retraining opportunities for their incumbent workforce, what would lead me to believe that there is a commitment to the future workforce that they are developing, or is this, indeed, just another replacement game where we take the older worker who we are not interested in, or who may cost more to retrain, and replace him with a lower-wage youth worker?
So there are some serious concerns in terms of the whole relationship between what we are doing for incumbent workers, as opposed to developing the next generation.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: What are the unions doing to train youth to enter the workforce? What are the unions doing to retrain people who have lost their jobs and now have to find a new skill just to maintain their productivity?
MS. ARAUJO: Certainly, there are a number of State federations, Central Labor Councils, and individual local affiliates that have been eligible for funding in order to do basic skills, English as a second language, and some skills retraining for our workforce.
I would like to point out a program in Southern California that involves Southern California Edison and Utility Workers Local No. 246. Together, the union and the company recognized a shortage in skilled technicians in a certain job classification. There is no one coming up from the ranks. Certainly, people were retiring and leaving, and there was an identified gout. The utility workers presented the company with a plan to become involved in school-to-work opportunities with two area high schools.
The high schools were responsible for the selection and recruitment of the students. The union sat down and negotiated a job classification with the company. The students were paid a minimum of $6 an hour to begin as a student utility trainee. They were covered by the collective bargaining agreement. They were union members. Part of their training involved not only the skills that they would see in six training modules at Southern California Edison, but also some labor history, the history of the local labor movement, familiarity with labor/management relations, including the grievance process, health and safety issues, all of which was incorporated into a separate training module. These students were eligible for the negotiated raises that the collective bargaining agreement called for during the course of their training.
Again, it was that jointedness, that recognized need of a shortage in an industry, that allowed this type of program to move forward. If that need had not been recognized, would this have gone forward? Probably not. Certainly, California is going through some--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: How about here in New Jersey?
MS. ARAUJO: I would love to hear from New Jersey. Outside of Jerome's project, and certainly there are some things going on with IBEW, I would love to hear about what is going on in New Jersey.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Well, I am asking you -- I am asking the whole panel there -- what is going on? Maybe you can testify about what is happening in New Jersey to help fit that bill of training kids and retraining people who have lost their jobs.
Jerome, are you ready to tell us your experience?
J E R O M E P A G E: Well, right now, Local No. 54, being one of the second largest unions in--
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Would you pull Deborah's microphone over, the big one? (witness complies) That's it.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Is it on?
MR. PAGE: I'm testing.
Local No. 54, being one of the second largest unions in South Jersey, we are now expanding our facilities to build training facilities for cooking, baking, and bar tending. We are now talking to the Department of Labor trying to see if there are some moneys we can get to help us with this construction.
In 1994, Local No. 54 got involved with the school-to-work. I have to give you a little history of our success story. It happens to revolve around me.
In 1979, I graduated from vocational school -- the Atlantic County Vocational School in New Jersey -- in cooking. The problem was, I did not think I was equipped enough to go into the casinos, because I thought it was just a big -- I mean, I thought you really had to know your stuff. With the school-to-work, if we had it back then, I would have been prepared enough to know that I could go into the casinos, because I would have been placed in the casinos working. That is one of the advantages we have today for our children. Because of school-to-work, in 1995, I ran for the School Board in Pleasantville, New Jersey, and I won. School-to-work was part of my platform. We received a grant for school-to-work from the Department of Labor for our district. We are a special needs district. We have over 12 students right now in the program. In 1994, when we started out, with the Atlantic County Vocational School, we started out with 12 students.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Let me interrupt you for one second.
The school-to-work program you are referring to--
MR. PAGE: Youth-to-work.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Youth-to-work. Is this a creation of the union, or is this the State--
MR. PAGE: This is a partnership.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: A partnership between which parties?
MR. PAGE: Between the school, the employer, and the union.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Okay. Is this school up and running now? It was running when you graduated?
MR. PAGE: Right. This is the Atlantic County Vocational School.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Okay.
MR. PAGE: In 1994, I received a phone call from the pastry chef instructor from that school, and he introduced me to the school-to-work -- the youth-to-work. We had a meeting the following week, and we became partners. Our problem was trying to convince the casinos to come on board. At that time, Local No. 54 was going through a lot of internal problems, and a lot of the casinos just didn't want anything to do with Local No. 54.
Because I was so involved with the school-to-work, after my presentation to them, a whole group of the employers, we signed up at the end of that presentation.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Maybe we will take you with us from now on and you can help negotiate the other deals.
MR. PAGE: No problem.
We have about a 60 percent success in students staying at the work site and going into apprenticeship programs. The ones who do not stay at the work site either go into furthering their education through the Atlantic County Community College in cooking-- Atlantic City is growing, and in another 5 years, our union will grow from 15,000, which it is presently, to over 30,000. We understand that today is our time to get involved in training our workers, with the casinos being partners in that training.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Other than the plans now for Local No. 54's new training facilities--
Robert, you have an up and running facility right now, don't you?
R O B E R T R E E V E: Yes.
My name is Bob Reeve. I am with the Local No. 9 Plumbers and Pipefitters of Central Jersey. We are the largest local in the State of New Jersey for plumbers and pipefitters. We have over 2000 members. We are affiliated with the International United Association across the country and Canada.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Can you tell us about your program specifically -- how many students are in it, what you are doing, what age the students are, where they come from, and that type of thing?
MR. REEVE: Okay. Let me just read this, and then I will address that. Part of it is in here. Okay?
Our program requires a minimum of 216 related school hours, rather than 144 which the State of New Jersey requires. We have found that that just isn't enough hours to get a tradesman where he should be to come out as a mechanic. We had to lower our on-the-job training hours to 1500 from 2000, because there are no jobs. If we left them at 2000 a year, they would never come out of their apprenticeship, so we had to lower that to 1500.
That is also a five-year program. On-the-job training hours -- they are verified to me by them coming to school every two weeks with their pay stubs, and I verify their actual work hours. That is created as part of the school program.
The related training requires them to have not less than a 70 percent grade average on all tests and on midterms and final exams. They also have a program that is jointly operated with the union, the contractors, and each one is equally represented on the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, which meets at least quarterly.
Our applicants are required to have a high school diploma, be 18 years or older, and pass the test and an interview with labor and management present. They must also pass the drug screening process, which is continued through the five-year program.
A student must receive acceptable written evaluations from his employer to me on a quarterly basis, so we monitor his on-the-job training as well. Our program has had to adjust to so-called high school diploma and GED students and give them the basics of 5th and 8th grade math and science so they can continue in our program. This instruction was supposed to be given to them in the public schools and it wasn't, yet they are still given their diplomas.
We have also had to teach study and reading skills that they have received during their school education, but it is not present when they come into our program. After these basic skills are taught by us, then we are able to proceed to teach them the trade skills needed to become a journey person.
Our apprentices must perform in unsafe conditions due to the nature of our trade. Everything is under construction, and it is just part of our trade that they are in unsafe environments. We do not encourage anyone under the age of 18. This requires in-depth safety training, which starts immediately with an OSHA program, which starts in the classroom and lab settings to ensure them working under safe conditions on the job.
This requires good reading and comprehension skills, which have not been seen in some of our applicants in the past 10 years. This is why OSHA standards should not be lowered, but upgraded and enforced.
There are constant changes in technology that need to be taught to keep our students abreast of the new materials, installation, and code changes. Our apprentices must be mature enough to realize that horseplay and other immature acts do not belong on the job site. That is another reason for having an increased job age. When they become plumbers and pipefitters, they will be required to function on their own, and this is made possible by requiring them to work with skilled mechanics who can show them the correct and safe way to perform the job.
We would like to expand our program to larger numbers, which we used to have, but due to the lack of jobs available we are unable to place them. Instead of putting underage, underskilled students in an unsafe workplace, it would be better to show them what an apprenticeship and trade have to offer by bringing them into our training facility to see firsthand how a good educational background is needed. At this time, they could also be informed of the wages they could receive and the many good, secure jobs that could be filled, although now there aren't any. The student would then want to become part of an apprenticeship program when they could see that it would put them into a trade that would serve them well for the rest of their lives. They would also realize that they would be protected by health and welfare insurance, Workers' Compensation, pension and annuity plans, from the beginning of their apprenticeship and into their retirement.
If youth training is to exist in the high schools, there should be equal participation between labor, management, and the school systems. Not only are our apprentices well trained, our mechanics have an intense training program that lasts for their full duration in the trade. They are taught medical gas piping certification, which is not being required by New Jersey yet. They are taught certified welding, which is used in all powerhouses, chemical plants, and refineries; CPR and first aid are mandated; plumbing code updates; hazardous waste site remediation; confined space entry by permit; valve repair for oil refineries and powerhouses; updated safety training; updated training of new technologies, such as material handling and safe working conditions. All of this is done without any government funding. We fund it ourselves. Each member pays into this fund, and our contractors and private businesses, all working together for a common goal -- to produce a product, a worker who is more efficient, safe, and better than anyone else in the world.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Are there any questions?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I just have one question -- actually, I have two.
I'm sorry, I have forgotten your name.
MR. REEVE: I'm Bob Reeve.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Thank you.
The first question is: You alluded to the fact that there aren't any jobs.
MR. REEVE: Correct.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Where are they? What happened to them?
MR. REEVE: The job force is being forced out of the State. There is no new construction going on. One example is the large pulp plant which was to be built up in Edison. It is now in Staten Island, because it is more conducive for that Australian company to move out of this State.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: So it is construction related?
MR. REEVE: Yes, that is what our trade is.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Very good. Okay. I didn't realize that.
My second question is: You alluded to your old apprentice program. Correct?
MR. REEVE: Yes.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I am not sure I caught it, but you reduced the number of training hours from 2000 to 1500?
MR. REEVE: The requirement is 1500 per year.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: As opposed to-- We heard previous testimony that suggested that the BAT apprentice program was 2000 hours.
MR. REEVE: Correct. If our members could not get that employment, they would never come out of their apprenticeship. There were no jobs available that would give them--
MR. VAN CAMPEN: So the requirement has been reduced, but yet they are still fully certified as an apprentice with 1500 hours?
MR. REEVE: They still meet the requirements of our testing.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Of your testing?
MR. REEVE: Yes. They are tested every time they come to class for whatever material was given. They are given a midterm exam. They come to school eight hours a day, one day a week every other week. They are not paid. That is what their training is.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: It just besets, perhaps, a fundamental understanding that I am trying to achieve of apprentice programs, and the fact is, they do different. We heard previous testimony that said there was uniformity, and that is not exactly so. Not that that is any big deal, but I am just trying to understand how it differs on a per-union or per-discipline basis, and what that means in terms of funding and recognition and State participation. You alluded to the fact that you are not accepting any money, correct?
MR. REEVE: No, we never have.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: So you are running it just as an individual, self-funded organization?
MR. REEVE: Right. We are nationally funded through our international, but our members pay for our own training center. Our members are also the instructors. We go to Michigan State University every year on a national level and retrain our instructors on any updated material that is coming up. They go there for 40 hours of training, and that is on an ongoing basis.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I guess the question is: Should the State be involved?
MR. REEVE: At this point, we have no need for the State to be involved. I think it would be good for the State to look at our program if they want to introduce anything, because we don't have any problems with it, other than putting our people to work.
MR. McNAMARA: Just to follow up a little bit: Since I joined this Task Force, I have now become head of the Laborers'-Employers' Trust Fund, so the union is a very important part of my management and labor organization. I just want to reenforce what I think you find, particularly in a lot of the construction trades.
The training programs that are set up are established through themselves. In most cases, they do not receive funding from the Federal government or the State. The quality of the programs-- I have been impressed. I have only been there for the past six months or so, but I have visited a number of our training centers. The programs that they have put into place to teach young people, or others who are being retrained, in terms of construction skills, in our case, environmental remediation and others, and even, in some cases, the technical training that is provided from the laborers -- gives them some credits if they want to pursue some college work.
So there is, at the union level, particularly in the construction end, where I am, a very sophisticated program and much more advanced than I had anticipated. I think programs like Bob and others have put together really should be an important part of our union/labor base.
MR. PAGE: I just want to add something about our involvement in the school-to-work. Before the student is placed on the job, I go out to the school and give a two-hour orientation. I explain to the students what they are going to experience when they get into the workplace. I explain their job to them, you know, their job classification and what is going to be expected of them. The success stories from them will come from them going to work and understanding that the people they work next to have been working for years, or have been in the industry for years. Learning different types of slang or language or whatever, will really prepare them for the workplace.
We also have visitations that I set up for schools out in Union County, or anywhere far out. They come in. I don't go to them, they come to us, and I do the same thing, give orientation. Then I set up a visitation in the workplace, in one of the casinos. The kids -- the students -- they love it. They go into a casino and they see all the glitter, but yet they go in the back of the house and they see the workers. I am not saying there are not workers out in the front, but they see a totally different scene in the casino industry.
What they really see is that it is just a workplace. The name out in front says "Trump Casino," but inside it is a workplace -- baking, cooking, whatever.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Jerome, when you speak about your school-to-work program, are you referring to the Atlantic County school-to-work program, or your union program?
MR. PAGE: No. We are now involved with Cape May County.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Who's we? Who is the work program?
MR. PAGE: It is the school Youth Transition to Work, school, labor, and employer.
DR. SIMKO: Jerome, let me say that I benefited years ago teaching a course down at Atlantic County Community College. When I started at Monmouth University, we used to have a NBA program down there. We would be able to sample the food from the Culinary Institute there that the students--
Let me just preface my brief comments by saying that I have been a member of the faculty union at Monmouth University for almost 20 years now. I am a member of the Executive Committee. But one thing -- as a student of planning and business administration -- that bothers me is, we have to balance, in the long term, the needs of the many versus the needs of the few. In your particular case, as you have already pointed out, your union is going to double in -- what did you say, four to five years?
MR. PAGE: Five years.
DR. SIMKO: In that case, industry dynamics are such that the growth is there, the potential is there.
MR. PAGE: Absolutely.
DR. SIMKO: Linda-- Is it Linda? I'm sorry, I missed your name.
MS. ARAUJO: It's Deborah.
DR. SIMKO: Deborah, I'm sorry. I apologize.
You mentioned earlier that you were concerned that, yes, while we have training for new people, we also cannot neglect our people who have had tenure, you know, who are in a tenure situation who have been with us. I think at some point there has to be a template. There has to be some sort of a meeting of the minds between -- what do you want to call it? --management, unions, the State, all the players involved, as to how we come up with those benchmarks that define how much we spend in terms of funding for vo-tech in certain industries. I think to go across the board and to generalize among industries, among all companies in New Jersey, regardless of size, number of union employees, and what have you, misses the point, as evidenced by the casino industry.
Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would be talking about such tremendous growth and all the money that is going to be invested. As you all know, there are other industries where growth is not forecast, so maybe the answer is retraining. But there has to be some -- I guess the word I am talking about is negotiations, real, true negotiations, where there is give and take.
MR. PAGE: Yes, we have to be at the table. Labor has to be at the table. I really appreciate it that you listened to labor today. I have been with Local No. 54 for over 12 years; I have been a member for 17 years. I went into Bally's Park Place after graduating and went for a cook's job, and I went all the way up to chef, then transferred into the Local, where I am now helping the ones that I work with.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Robert, I just have a question for you: Your program -- Local No. 9 -- do you have a facility in Hazlet?
MR. REEVE: Yes, that is our refrigeration/air-conditioning division.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: I think I am scheduled to go visit that.
MR. REEVE: We just had an open house last week, as a matter of fact. Our general president from Philadelphia was there -- he is our national president -- for the presentation.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: I think I am scheduled to go see that so I can get a better idea.
When someone graduates from that school, or the other school that you mentioned-- Do they have any adaptive skills to go into any other trade, or are they pretty much focused on that?
MR. REEVE: Our trade is very diverse. I came through the program back in the 1960s. I went to Trenton Vo-Tech. We left -- at that time, in 1969 -- to open our own school, because there wasn't enough curriculum from the vo-tech at that point. We opened a school up in Hamilton Square. We went from Hamilton Square out to Englishtown.
After the five-year program, I went through-- I actually worked on this building. I managed 25 men here renovating this building. I ran work at a nuclear powerhouse.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: This building?
MR. REEVE: Yes. I have run jobs with up to 150 men on them. I was the State apprenticeship winner. I went out to Purdue University and represented New Jersey back in the 1970s as the best apprentice in the State. I worked my way through the program. I am now Coordinator of the largest one in the State. We do everything in-house. There is no one coming from outside.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: The reason I was asking is because-- I was prompted by Deborah's comments. One of the observations was a promise of work after the training, and also adaptability to go from one working situation to another. I want to know, like, the folks who graduated from your Hazlet or Englishtown facilities, are they guaranteed work and, if they are not guaranteed work in that field, do they have adaptive skills to go work someplace else?
MR. REEVE: Their skills make them available to go to work. We guarantee them work. We search for work through our contractors, but if there is no work available, we can't guarantee that. But they are given skills from welding in a nuclear powerhouse to fixing a faucet to fixing a thermostat on the wall. There is a very large, diverse area that our trade covers, and some people will work only at one part of that, which could be plumbing, pipefitting, welding, nuclear work, or hazardous waste removal. They can specialize in that and, if there is no job availability in that specialization, we have continuous training year-round for all members to allow them to go wherever there might be another job available in whatever training we can give them. That is why we go to Michigan every year, to get new training and offer it to our members.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Joel?
DR. BLOOM: I guess I am looking for a little clarity here. Are the differences so great between what you do and what the vo-tech schools -- the county vo-tech schools or the county colleges do, that there is no wedding possible? You maintain your training facilities and they maintain theirs?
MR. REEVE: Oh, no, there's a wedding. We use all the vo-tech schools in our immediate area. We cover all of Central New Jersey. I send residential plumbing apprentices, who are a different classification. They go out and work in residences and small buildings. They go to the vo-tech schools. That is only a four-year program.
MR. PAGE: Right, in our vocational school, they teach the basics, and then we send them -- or they may go right over to the Community College, which will teach them more in depth.
DR. BLOOM: But you also maintain your own discrete training facilities. Is that what I heard?
MR. REEVE: Yes.
DR. BLOOM: You are both in the building?
MR. PAGE: Yes, we are going to build very soon.
MS. MASON: There are several unions in the State -- operating engineers, electrical workers -- who all maintain their own apprentice training programs.
MR. PAGE: I just want to add something else. Sitting on the School Board in Pleasantville, I had to educate the remaining Board members on school-to-work, youth to work. Successfully, I did that. Now our directive to our superintendent and guidance counselors is to stop pushing our kids to college if they don't want to go. Our directive is to get them into the career training -- school-to-work programs, introduce it to them, and don't be afraid to show them, "Here is another program."
Our success rate, as far as dropouts are concerned-- We have decreased within the last two years with our dropout rate. In our alternative high school, we have a lot of students who participate in the school-to-work. They come to school now. They are eager to continue on. So it is something that is positive in our district.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You actually have the best opportunity, union, industry, and the schools, to work together, kind of like in Germany. It is entirely different there, I know that, but it has to be worked our way here. Nothing is the same from across the ocean to here. So you have to work at what is best for us over here. You have a very unique opportunity in Atlantic City with the field you're in and with the growth you've having. It is unbelievable. To double the growth, wow! I would love to have that in my business. Harvey Wiley would be happy. Do you know him?
MR. PAGE: Yes, I do.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Okay. We have to wrap up.
Okay, I'm sorry?
MS. MASON: Just something real quick .
I began by mentioning jobs and the problems with jobs. The reason is, while as labor we very much support the youth training programs and we do want them to grow, they must grow, perhaps, selectively. We are just concerned -- and I know you will hear bigger yells in the future -- that if there are large numbers of students going to be dumped into the job market at an early age, if that is the future plan, you are going to hear an uproar from several different unions around the State, because it will simply flood the market, which is already tight in certain trades and skills. It threatens to lower wages for, you know--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Well, we have to move them into areas where there are jobs.
MS. MASON: Where there are jobs, right.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: That is the key. The keep training people for jobs where there are no jobs-- I think that was said earlier. I also got this at the symposium I attended last Wednesday at Princeton. The key is, you have to change the training to the jobs that are there. The President of Lucent Technologies -- one of the things that he talked about was, we keep training, but it is for the wrong jobs. That is what we have to do, go in the direction where the jobs are. There is no sense making more plumbers and pipefitters and so forth -- and electricians -- if there are not that many jobs available.
MR. REEVE: Well, the key part that I see, also, with the jobs, making those available, is also to not classify it as an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship has an aged, high standard, and it covers certain areas. To just make a pretraining for work an apprenticeship is not what I consider an apprenticeship.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Well, apprenticeship may be okay in certain fields, it may not be in other fields. It is really school-to-work programs that we are talking about, as a whole.
Thank you very much.
MR. PAGE: I do have a copy of the program.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Dana Egreczky. All of you come up -- SaraLee and Estelle. You are all community colleges. I think we ought to do it all together. Now, wait a minute. Dana is from the Chamber of Commerce, but that's okay. That's fine.
Who wants to start first?
D A N A E L I Z A B E T H E G R E C Z K Y: I'll start.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Are you Dana.
MS. EGRECZKY: Yes, I'm Dana.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Okay.
MS. EGRECZKY: My name is Dana Egreczky. I pronounce it Dana, it rhymes with banana. I have a bachelor's degree in science and a master's degree in adult training and education. All that learning distills down to one thing: The mind can only absorb what the posterior can endure. We are all about at the outside limits, so I will be brief.
When I got to the Chamber about eight months ago or so--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Oh, that's right. We talked the other day.
MS. EGRECZKY: Yes, correct, at Princeton.
The Chamber is under new management. We have a visionary president, a dynamic woman who has an activist mission. Part of her mission is education and, therefore, she hired me about eight months ago. My background includes 16 years as a public school teacher, about 4 or 5 years as a computer trainer in industry, and then 6, 7 years based in local chambers of commerce establishing business and education partnerships. We have done, for seven years, what everyone here has been talking about, and we have done it very quietly on shoestring budgets, and very effectively.
So, rather than talk about the theories and philosophies that we all need to support, I am going to talk to you about what the Chamber is going to do about all of that.
We believe that many of the school-to-work initiatives currently in place are neither broad enough nor deep enough to accommodate the millions of kids who are in our schools now. So we are looking to impact kids much earlier and on a much broader basis.
One project that we have launched is called ConnXtions. For the last seven years, local chambers, mostly in the northern part of the State, but extending as far south as Monmouth County, have supported this project under various names. We basically pair industry people with teachers. They take a look at curricula, and they rewrite curricula, so that what the kids learn -- same math, same science, same language skills, but they are applied to industry.
A quick example: I am sure you can remember your math books and problems that read like, "Mary is 7 times older than John. John is 4 times older than Joe's father. How old is Mary?" Well, in the real world, you call Mary's mother and you say, "How old is Mary?" How boring! But if you take that same math and instead you present the problem to a student and say, "You are a manager. You supervise 6 people. You can give them raises of between 3 percent and 6.5 percent. Figure out who is going to get what, and be prepared to document your reasons to your management." The same math. You have made a workplace connection.
For the last seven years, we have been supporting teachers as they adapt curricula to bring to schools. We have modules as low as pre-K, modules as advanced as AP physics, in which the learning and the academic content is translated into a business-based experience. It has a proven record of success, and actually, we have not been able to keep up with the demand from teachers for this program.
School boards have committed to 30 percent of the costs in supporting that program. Local chambers are committed to driving it. As soon as we find some further funding for it, we plan to take this project statewide. It is currently operating in six counties.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Now, if you were in Germany, you would be the boss over there. You would run the whole program. The state funds you, industry funds you, and the union funds you, and the chamber runs the whole program.
MS. EGRECZKY: Well, we are not in Germany.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I know, it is a different program. I know. That was interesting.
MS. EGRECZKY: Actually, as a result of the popularity of the modules we created in these projects, we actually mounted them on a web site so we could save our printing costs. As of the end of September, some of the modules that are most popular among the teachers, where kids get to play managers, get to role play technicians, get to be machinists, get to be public relations people, get to be scientists, will be able to be accessed right through a web site.
We have also received a small amount of funding to add audio and visual components to this web site, so rather than just getting a module downloaded off the site, there will actually be an audiovisual piece of a real live scientist, engineer, technician, electrician, whomever, saying, "Hi. I'm Joe. I started in my career because I liked math when I was in 7th grade. I did this, that, and the other thing, and now I am an accountant at a company, and I make X number of dollars a year." So this will all be on-line within the next six months or so.
We are also looking to transfer expertise from business to schools through a program called Tech Corps. Tech Corps will be launched in November. Volunteers from business with technical expertise will assist schools in getting their implementation of technology. It is currently being sponsored by Bell Atlantic, KPMG, and Prudential, and we will be launching that in October and November.
Basically, these two programs will support the State Department of Education's two cross-content standards, one for technology readiness, one for business-based awareness.
First will be a very visible, very pressed, mediaworthy event, but which also espouses the best in teaching and learning practices. We will pair industry engineers with high school kids. They will have exactly six weeks to get themselves a box of stuff, and the same box is given to every team -- kind of like in the Apollo 13 movie, where the engineers were just thrown a box of stuff on the table -- and they will have to design a robot out of that stuff that answers a problem.
Now, the problem changes every year. The industry scientists and technicians will help the kids to construct the robot. It is a seven-state regional competition. Johnson & Johnson is one of our key sponsors. It will be held at Rutgers. Working through other state chambers, we will bring this project to New Jersey in March.
One of the projects that we have very high hopes for making an incredibly indelible mark in New Jersey is continuous improvement for schools. We are currently sponsoring, in partnership with Kemper Registrar Services, an ISO9000 program for schools in New Jersey. As of January, the first high school in New Jersey will become ISO9000 certified. Now, if you have been to Germany and you are aware of what is going on in international business, I am sure you have heard of ISO9000.
Unknown to most people in industry, however, there are ISO9000 education standards. These standards have never before been used in North America. The school we are working with will be the first high school in North America to become ISO9000 certified. We will then decide whether or not the ISO9000 program, the Baldridge (phonetic spelling) award criteria, or any other standards might be an appropriate replacement for State monitoring. Currently, of course, State monitoring is simply a compliance model, an old-fashioned, time-based, number-based, not-a-continuous-improvement system.
Vital Link: The Chamber has decided to sponsor a project called Vital Link, which we hope will impact hiring practices in industry. There should never be any high school kid employed in the State of New Jersey without some employer saying to that kid, "Let me see your transcript." From that transcript, you can find out how punctual the kid was, how his or her attendance record was, what kind of academic record he or she may have, what kind of courses he or she may have had. That is not going on right now. There is no reason why it shouldn't be going on, and the Chamber is committed to making that happen.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: How are you going to make that happen, though? Is it through the Department of Education?
MS. EGRECZKY: The Department of Education has a project that it is referring to as Work Link. Work Link is a document that is being touted as a workplace-based resume/transcript. I did see the Work Link document. While it has some foundations for what the Chamber could say is a good idea, it also starts from a very negative position.
Unfortunately, there is no single transcript that will allow a school to enter high school data -- to enter the data about high school kids' grades, attendance, etc., and format that information such that it comes out both as a college transcript and as a work-base transcript. There is no such document.
The current system requires schools to sit down, data enter grades and attendance and punctuality for kids so that it becomes a college transcript and then double enter the same data so that it becomes a workplace-based transcript that is employer friendly. That is ridiculous. The Chamber has been speaking with a large software company to design a project -- a program that will do both. Once we have gotten that on-line, we plan to see how well it flies and test it within schools.
Finally, when I got to the Chamber one of the first things my boss said to me was, "Find out what's out there." The answer is, there is no single place to find out what is going on out there when you are talking about business and education partnerships. So, rather than sit in my office and accumulate data that would stay on my desk, we are going to use that data to develop an on-line database where anybody -- an employer, a student, or a teacher -- can look for the best models of business and education partnerships that exist in this State -- model apprenticeship programs, model curriculum development programs, you name it, we hope to have it on there. We have gotten a certain amount of preliminary funding from a J&J company, Ethicon.
So the Chamber is committed to school-to-work and work-to-school programs. It, of course, serves our mission to serve business through these types of initiatives.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Before I do so, though, I would like to make an offer and a suggestion. My offer is that I would be happy to work with this Task Force as it does its work. My suggestion is that if, indeed -- and I will echo a previous witness -- if, indeed, you believe in these kinds of programs, then dollars have to be attached to them. The Work-Link document is a perfect example. It doesn't exist. There is no reason why money can't be found to make that happen.
DR. SIMKO: Hi. Just a quick question. Gene Simko, from Monmouth University, the School of Business Administration. I said (indiscernible), as you know, is very rigorous in its application of standards.
MS. EGRECZKY: Right.
DR. SIMKO: I am just bursting with curiosity. If you do it right, you are supposed to evaluate not only the workers and employees, but also the managerial decision-making staff. What happens in a typical high school if you evaluate tenured high school teachers as being subquality standard?
MS. EGRECZKY: Well, I guess the answer to that right now is that we haven't picked a typical high school.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Maybe you could use Tenafly.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: How about if a college professor is substandard? What do we do with them?
DR. SIMKO: That is for another committee.
MS. EGRECZKY: Actually, no. I am glad someone brought it up, because one of the drives that we will also be looking forward to in the future is the universities and colleges. Particularly the schools of education within the universities and colleges which prepare our teachers should be meeting standards. I think it is ludicrous that the Department of Education has issued K-12 standards that all K-12 schools are now lining behind, and not one single school of education which prepares the teachers is addressing those standards in any kind of a let's-do-this-together kind of fashion. I think that is ridiculous. Talk about redundancies -- it's ludicrous.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: There is a report out that one in four teachers is not qualified to teach. Didn't I just read that the other day?
MS. EGRECZKY: That's correct.
MR. SHERIDAN: Mr. Chairman?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Yes, go ahead.
MR. SHERIDAN: Briefly, I am very impressed with the breadth and the quality of these different programs that you either have or are working on developing.
I would say that I am not too sold on the Vital-Link idea, and I would like to speak with you about that, perhaps later. But it seems to me that the children today are growing up in an entirely different environment than perhaps you and I enjoyed as children. This almost seems as if it is going to lock some kids out of -- immediately exclude them from some opportunities.
MS. EGRECZKY: Well, I can appreciate that perspective. However, I will give you two others, one is my own, as a teacher. If a child comes to my class and he or she is college bound, they play the game. They know the tests, they take the tests, they go for the grades, they are there on time. They play the game. If a child is not college bound, he or she will give up on the game. So teachers can stand in front of a classroom for entire years, banging their heads against the blackboards, saying, "Attendance counts, punctuality counts, grades count," and there is no reinforcement for that, because no one looks at a kid's high school record. So that is a teacher's perspective.
From a kid's perspective-- If you look at this from the child's perspective, from the student's perspective, as a chance for self assessment, in many ways, not just at senior year, "Here is my resume," but way back in 5th, 6th, 7th grade where he or she says, "I like math. Maybe someday I would like a job in an accounting firm," then you have to start working with that child from that point on to establish his or her goals, say, "Well, if you want a job like that, you have to be on time. You have to be here every day. You have to take more than just the two or three years of math required by law."
Yes, in some ways, kids who reach the end of the line and fail before anyone can intervene, may be shut out of things, but I am looking at this more from the formative stage, that if we do this well enough and early enough in a child's education, it can help to form them and get that idea in terms of ethics and responsibilities on the table before they go out and find the hard way that they are going to lose a job anyway, because they are late every day.
MR. SHERIDAN: I agree. I think, certainly, it is important to get them on track and keep them on it, but, you know, before, we heard about 15 hours versus 20 hours for a high school work ethic that somehow needs to be understood. We do track that. You know, children are no longer required to get a work permit. My concern would be that there is a dialogue. I think it is a good idea to have a dialogue between employers and school officials, so that if there is a drop-off in grades, or there are other problems that crop up, there should be a communication that maybe that child should be removed from work. I tend to think if he or she really wanted to work, they could find something else.
My concern is, I look at an enormous body of children who would probably look pretty poor on paper, and who once given a change to work might dramatically improve. I would be afraid to lose those children.
MS. EGRECZKY: Actually, probably one of the best examples of some of the stuff you are talking about exists in a McDonald's in South Brunswick. The manager of the South Brunswick McDonald's not only asks for transcripts, but asks the kids to bring in quarterly report cards as well. If the grades go down, she speaks with the high school, and together the high school teachers and the employer figure out what they can do about it to save that kid. So it does work.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: We have to stop the questions for the moment. We have five more speakers, and we have to get out of here in an hour if I am getting you back to the university.
S A R A L E E P I N D A R: I am not going to read my--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Are you Estelle? Which one are you?
MS. PINDAR: Oh, I'm sorry. I am SaraLee Pindar, a Programs and Economic Development Officer for the State Association of New Jersey's 19 community colleges.
For the last six years, I have been monitoring community college involvement in school-to-work programs. It began with Tech Prep. Tech Prep was the idea that we could retain students in the comprehensive high schools to graduation by giving them a career focus and developing curricula that began no later than the 11th grade, and articulated through two years of community college.
Tech Prep was working very well, but there were some problems between community colleges and the Department of Education. When the community colleges were being funded to form Tech Prep consortia, there were several counties that had every comprehensive high school and every Catholic high school, as well as the vocational-technical schools in their consortia. That means that students had the option of getting on a career track no later than the 11th grade, and many of them were able to earn college credit before graduating high school. I know that that worked in Cumberland County. I believe it also worked in Camden and Mercer Counties.
When school-to-work and Youth Transitions to Work came along, they were perceived as being vocational programs, and I am here today to beg this Task Force to focus on the 300,000 students in the comprehensive high schools, because 75 percent of them will never earn a bachelor's degree, and most of those 75 percent haven't a clue as to how they are going to earn money when they graduate high school. Even if they earn a bachelor's degree, we have students today in the community colleges who have come back with their bachelor's of liberal arts in their hands while they are earning an associate degree that is marketable in a career. I think that if we look at that, we can see that there is really no two-track system.
College and career are not mutually exclusive. We are just permitting that perception to go on and on and on. If we have projects in the comprehensive high schools that prepare students for career programs that not only earn an associate degree but articulate into a bachelor's, and then a MBA, we may begin to break down those barriers.
My request is, therefore, that the Task Force come up with projects that will enable community colleges to form consortia with the comprehensive high schools where most of those students are sitting. Let's face facts: The 25,000 students in the vocational-technical schools know what they want to do, or they have some idea about it. The other 250,000 really do not have a clue, unless they are going to be doctors or lawyers, and then they are going to be taken care of in their bachelor's and their terminal degrees. We really need something to retain those students in school and get them into career tracks in programs that will articulate through a bachelor's and then on, if that is what they want to do.
My second request is that these grants programs not be competitive. Everybody says, "What, not competitive?" Right. The Department of Labor currently has a grants program for customized training. It works very well. As soon as a company has identified a need and come up with a grant proposal, they present it. If the funding is all used up, they are told that and they are put on a list -- a waiting list for the following fiscal year. We could do the same thing with these projects. As soon as a consortia is formed and has a project that they want to do, they can submit their application. Then, I further suggest that these grants should go for a minimum of three years. Why? Because if you start a student in the 11th grade, you want to be able to continue the program until that student has finished at least their freshman year of a higher education program, or their first year of a registered apprenticeship.
We have heard a lot today about apprenticeships. The one thing we did not hear was that you have to be 18 years old to be in most of them, because they are in occupational, safety-problem occupations.
I am going to stop there because of the time and the hunger. But if there are any questions, I will be happy to take them. I do offer to work with this Task Force, as needed.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Ms. Pindar, before we field any questions, I want to publicly thank you on behalf of the Task Force for all your help in organizing this agenda. You provided a lot of information and leads for us that are invaluable.
Thank you very much.
MS. PINDAR: You're very welcome.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: Are there any questions?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I just have to ask this question. I am not sure that I heard it accurately, but did I hear you make a statement something to the effect that there are 250,000 students in colleges without a clue as to what they want to do?
MS. PINDAR: No, in the comprehensive high schools.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: In the high schools?
MS. PINDAR: In the high schools. There are approximately 300,000 students in New Jersey's high schools right now. Seventy-five percent of them will not take a four-year degree. They may enroll in a college, but they won't finish a four-year degree. At the same time, they do not know what they want to do for a career. I think that group has to be addressed.
Tech Prep was meant to do that, but it got askew in New Jersey. I think we need a program that will marry Tech Prep and co-op for those students.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: You're talking about the 75 percent.
MS. PINDAR: That's right.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Right. I'm sorry. I misunderstood what you said.
MS. PINDAR: No problem.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I'm confused now. I am confused now, too.
How many students do we have in the high schools altogether now?
MS. PINDAR: Three hundred thousand. That's a ballpark figure, Assemblyman.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: All high school students?
MS. PINDAR: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: And a quarter of a million do not know what they want to do?
MS. PINDAR: I would say that the 75 percent who won't finish a bachelor's degree probably don't know what--
Here's the profile of an average community college student, okay? He or she is 28 years old, has a high school diploma, went to a four-year college for one to three semesters, dropped out, and has been working at a minimum wage job. Now they want to get their life on track, and by the age of 31 they may finally get into a career. That is the profile of the average community college student, and we have 135,000 credit students.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: I could not disagree with you more on that. I don't think that is the average. I don't know where you get your information from, but-- I know their age is that, but I don't know that that is the average in terms of background.
MS. PINDAR: Okay.
MR. VAN CAMPEN: It differs.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Will you two communicate?
MR. VAN CAMPEN: Excuse me? Yes.
I am hearing a lot of statistics that I am not sure as to where they come from.
MS. PINDAR: I got this information-- It may not be statistically accurate, but it is a profile of students who are seen day in and day out at the community colleges.
DR. BLOOM: I may be able to help just a bit, having been an Assistant Commissioner in this State for eight years and following the data.
Approximately, right now, we are graduating 70,000 students annually -- graduating, so we do have a dropout.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: From high school?
DR. BLOOM: From high school in the State of New Jersey. That's public/private. So we are automatically, from this discussion, removing the number of students who drop out. We can talk about that. Of the 70,000 who will get a high school diploma somewhere in the State of New Jersey, about 60 percent of them will go on to college or some postsecondary education, half of whom will finish. So we are really talking about 15,000 to 20,000 students who are going to exist with some postsecondary education. It is a whole range, including private proprietary schools. But we should not be misled by the data. A lot of students do return, a lot of students drop out and come back.
It is a problem. I mean, you are accurate about the discontinuation of Tech Prep and the disservice to comprehensive high schools. It is a significant problem that students in comprehensive high schools will be one of those numbers that does flounder. I am not quite sure it is as high as that, but it is a large number. It's a problem.
MS. PINDAR: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN CORODEMUS: I am going to apologize to the panel and to the witnesses here today. I have to leave now for another hearing. But I thank you all for coming. Assemblyman Azzolina will conclude the hearing.
Everyone will be notified of the next hearing. Then we will be developing a plan. I need your assistance in developing a plan, because we have been bombarded with information here today, a lot of which we suspected was out there. Now that we have heard the experts testify, we are going to make a plan on how to proceed from here, because I think there is commonality between all the witnesses and the interests of the people on the panel that there is a job to be done here to prepare our children and our displaced workers for the future. Perhaps the school-to-work program is the one that will fit the bill on how we get this organized and the priorities properly placed and funded to do that.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Thank you, Assemblyman.
I would like to ask one question. Well, maybe you can answer it later, just think about it.
Of the students who enter high school, how many actually graduate, what percentage a year?
E S T E L L E G R E E N B E R G: Seventy percent.
DR. BLOOM: In New Jersey, we all brag about an 80 percent graduation rate. It is close to 70 percent, 75 percent of those who enter. There are also large populations in the State who do not enter.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Don't enter?
DR. BLOOM: Again, we know we have a large immigrant population coming into New Jersey that does not show up on any screen.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Okay. All right. Thanks.
You're on, Ms. Greenberg. Go.
MS. GREENBERG: I will be very, very brief. I am the Director of Grants at the Hudson County Community College, which is located in Jersey City, as Mayor Schundler knows. We have 553,000 people in Hudson County, about 253,000 of them in Jersey City. We are a receiving area for immigrants. Our experience has been that when we have been asked to prepare grants for school-to-work apprenticeships, they do not work. We cannot get the cooperation of the local trades, because there are no jobs. They will not open up to us. It is, I think, thoroughly ridiculous -- the man who was sitting here told you so -- to put money into situations demanding union participation when the union participation will not be there.
As you have seen, unions are not monolithic. They are extremely democratic. The locals have control of what they want to do, no matter how many well-spoken people get up here and speak for the AFL-CIO. Those situations which were successful were basically CIO-type situations where you have industrywide participation. Those situations if based in Hudson County, in New Jersey, are basically AFL-type situations which are craft unions, which are dominated and controlled by their crafts and shaped by their crafts, as you have seen, and it won't work.
If you want us to have union participation, you have to broaden, you have to give us more latitude and you have to allow, maybe, some kind of block grant system where you make the plan, we conform to it, we comply with it, we get a buy-in. But you cannot ask us to do the impossible.
School-to-work has an excellent chance of succeeding in a generation. We are starting now. Hudson County Community College had first a fiscal agent, and now finally a facilitator of school-to-work in Hudson County. We held our first meeting last Friday. We had complete participation of the five special needs districts to answer the questions that Dr. Henry's office offered us for the next phase of our school-to-work initiative. We look upon it as a transitional initiative, and not a grant, because that is what it is. It is transitional money to help you prepare your system to change and to make radical, deep-seated changes in curricula after curricula, so that you really expose students who do not have the family background, who do not have the wherewithal to understand the sociology of the workplace. When you look at school-to-work as exposing children to the sociology of the workplace, children whose families are not connected, children who may not have families, you see that it can be a very exciting thing, and that is how we sold it to the educational districts of Hudson County.
Dr. Henry is coming up next Friday -- I think it is the 27th -- and we are going to have a countywide summit, followed by roundtables. And, yes, we need to study change. We need attitudinal change on the part of counselors, because they are geared to, you know, "College equals success." It can be done. It will take a generation. But it needs funding, it needs understanding. You have to understand that there are various New Jerseys. You have a rust belt corridor. You have a receiving immigrant port around Jersey City and Newark, but Jersey City particularly, Hudson County particularly. Then you have a suburban/exurban State. We are outgunned in the Legislature, but we are not outgunned in population, and we are not outgunned in problems.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I would like to bring something up that Mayor Schundler brought up the other night. I happened to be somewhere where he was. He was, I guess, just talking to us. We were just discussing Jersey City basically. He was telling me that his driver, a policeman in Jersey City, who is black, very sharp, has a daughter, a student, who is very sharp, and that he fears for his daughter because she wants to study and be a good student, but she is intimidated in the school system for trying to be a good student by many others who do not care.
How do you resolve that problem? I know that is another issue.
MS. GREENBERG: It is an issue.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: But it all has to do with work-to-school, too -- or school-to-work.
MS. GREENBERG: It all has to do with school-to-work, it all has to do with changing the atmosphere of the school, and it has to do with changing -- with giving some feeling that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, when you have desperate people, they don't like people who try to achieve.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I know.
MS. GREENBERG: Our students tell us that all the time. They lose friends as they go through college, friends they have had since childhood.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I know, but that is a major problem we have to overcome in the urban areas -- in the urban schools.
MR. SHERIDAN: Mr. Chairman?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Yes?
MR. SHERIDAN: Just very briefly, I want to just personally note: Hudson County Community College has just made a dramatic series of strides in the last 10 years. The Community College deserves a lot of credit.
MS. GREENBERG: Thank you.
MR. SHERIDAN: As I look at Hudson County, Saint Peter's, Jersey City State, you know, we are definitely doing a good job of educating professionals, teachers, and others in higher ed. But the Community College is so vital, because, as you said, it is a rust belt city, it is an immigrant city. Hudson County has suburban characteristics in some areas in its mentality. People simply don't want to move or don't want to mow the lawn.
So I think we need to take further steps to integrate your institution with the entire chain. Again, I only disagree with you in the respect that it may take a generation to fully implement school-to-work, but we don't have the time, and I don't think-- You know, there is not an enormous pool of money either. So we need to be creative in working to address the need with the available resources.
MS. GREENBERG: I think I have to be more precise. It would take a school generation, not a human generation.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Thank you very much. We are learning a lot here today.
Dr. Bloom, will you please give us a summary. You will keep it fairly short, right?
DR. BLOOM: Yes. I won't even take the time--
I have prepared a packet so you can see all the good stuff about NJIT.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: We have that. Right.
You may talk right from there, if you want.
DR. BLOOM: Assemblyman Azzolina, since you are also my Assemblyman in Monmouth County--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Oh, where?
DR. BLOOM: In Monmouth Beach. NJIT is about 90 percent U.S./New Jersey-born students. I know the program you visited.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: It was a special program. It wasn't a whole college.
DR. BLOOM: Right, right. It is a Ph.D. program. I am not going to get into that issue. I am going to focus a little on--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I am glad to hear what you just said. I thought the whole college was that way. Okay.
DR. BLOOM: No, no. We are a New Jersey school.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Okay.
DR. BLOOM: A couple of things, if I may, which relate back to NJIT and two prior experiences I started with industry. I went into K-12 education. I did serve with Saul Cooperman as Assistant Commissioner for eight years here in Trenton. So I think I may have some sense of some issues.
I think what we heard here were some disconnects. I am going to use Commissioner Calderone's comments of a little earlier. One, we have a lot of policy being made, but the policy is not put into practice. We now have K-12 curriculum content standards. Great. We probably have been working at that for at lease a decade and a half in this State. The problem is, it is not K-18.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Excuse me. Can you hear all right? (affirmative response)
DR. BLOOM: The problem is, it is not K-18. I will just leave that out there for now. We can talk about that some more.
The problem is, how are you going to get this C change into the local schools across New Jersey? So policy to practice is one concern.
It has already been said, we have a lot of infrastructure in the State of New Jersey across the whole education scenario. In some ways, it is an expensive infrastructure, but there is no coordination. We do not have K-18 coordination. We have a lot of compartmentalization, and it does a massive disservice--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Excuse me. What is K-18?
DR. BLOOM: K-18 is to say, we want to know what is going to happen to kids who want to start at kindergarten and finish through a baccalaureate degree.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Oh, okay.
DR. BLOOM: Although we have heard a lot about whether we should or should not have all children targeted to college, the question is, when are they going to go? Most children will wind up, whether as middle-age adults or older adults, taking some college education. It is the only way we are going to compete in an increasingly technological society.
The error we are making is telling students, as many students as want to hear it, that they should be going to college right after high school. That is not necessary for a lot of professions out there. But we do need to know that if you go back-- We have all, I think, taken the same trip. You looked at the European system. The European system is a K-18 system. They talk about-- The ideal of that that I have seen, and you may have seen, is the Siemens Corporation.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: We were there.
DR. BLOOM: The Siemens Corporation does not say to the child, "Either be a college bound or a noncollege bound." What do you think you want to do professionally? There are numerous entry points in your educational continuum as to where you can wind up. As you know, the President of the Siemens Corporation was a laborer. The CEO of Siemens Corporation was a laborer, now a Ph.D. So there is a little bit of a model.
So we have a lot of infrastructure, but how do we coordinate it from K through 18. The Tech Prep comment is right on. We keep on leapfrogging from program to program, and now comprehensive high schools-- For all intents and purposes, the majority of kids in the State are now left out of school-to-work. Came the disconnect.
The third issue -- and I believe you may have mentioned it earlier -- we do not do enough as far as communications and marketing. We allow that if you do not get a college degree, you are not going to be able to have a quality life. You are not going to have lifelong employment. We really need to do a better job, as policy makers and educators, to let students know of the whole array of options.
So the policy to practice is a problem. We have an infrastructure that is not coordinated, and what is there, we do not communicate well about. That is why we see so many-- More students fall through the cracks than are entertained in the broad array of educational instruction we have out there.
We have some models. It is not all doom and gloom. There are some models. I am sorry some of the folks may have left. We do have vo-tech schools that have high-tech components. You have probably seen, or you are aware of Hudson going that way. Bergen County has gone that way. Monmouth County--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Cape May, also, I think.
DR. BLOOM: I'm sorry?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Cape May, also.
DR. BLOOM: I don't know about Cape May.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I was down there two weeks ago. They are going-- Now they are changing the name from vocational to high tech.
DR. BLOOM: Well, they do it because of the communicatons/marketing issue. But there you are saying-- The reality is, in the workplace, the student who comes out with a high school or a vo-tech or a county college diploma does need to communicate with the person who may be there with a baccalaureate and a master's. That is what we see in more and more of the high-tech workplace. They have never worked together, at least in a school setting. Thus, that communication will not be present in the workplace. So we have some models. They are all vo-tech schools.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: That is why, I think, that some of the high schools -- the vo-techs are changed to high tech, to get out of that low-tech vocational. I understood vo-tech the same as years back. I had that mentality there until I actually went to see it. It is different today. It is high tech, a lot of it.
DR. BLOOM: A lot of it, and you will see-- Again, I have been to Hudson County a number of times. You will see students who will only plan on -- only plan on graduating with a diploma from the school, as well as students who would like to go to a quality institution like NJIT or Monmouth University, or else they are working together on projects. They find they can work together and cooperate and move on to the same workplace.
The other piece I would like to put out there -- President Messina already addressed it -- is, there are some models, and NJIT and Burlington County College have gotten together to fill the void in southern New Jersey. The idea of four-year institutions, or the senior research institutions working an articulated system that the county college works. We need more of it. Although it is expensive in the start-up, it is less expensive once it is operating, because we are now, for example, sharing facilities in southern New Jersey. So that is the second kind of model.
The other thing is -- and there is a lot of it out there -- the incentive for labor, industry, and the K-18 school system to work together. If, as policy makers or legislators, we can do any one thing, we need to find more incentives to bring those folks together. I am a little more familiar than I may have alluded to with the labor unions setting up their own apprenticeship programs. It is counterproductive. It is very expensive. They put a lot of money into that, yet they need them. So the question is: Why isn't either the vo-tech system or the county college finding some way to marry those? They are, so we do have some duplication. I think we have to think about the incentives.
My last comment is: There is a possible model out there, the use of technology. What you saw in Germany, what I saw in Germany. The students can-- I was there five years ago. They had CD-ROMS on the wall then that students could load into computers, early versions. I don't know if you saw in the news yesterday, now they can-- Instead of the CD-ROM, it is a DVD, a dense video disk, which is the equivalent of seven CDs to one DVD anyway. Five years ago, on the walls, young students interactive technology. It was high interest, usually motivated the students to get interested in careers and then go back and revisit it. We are still, in New Jersey, not using the technology to create career awareness among young students. We give them a lot of materials. A lot of people will stand up like us and speak on our fee, which may not turn on a lot of 5th and 6th graders, but technology does that.
So let me stop at this point.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Thank you.
Well, I am glad that you were there. I guess from the Department of Education, some must have gone there also, the Department of Labor, and then we followed suit later on. We, at least, understand. Again, as I said earlier, we are not going to do the same as they have, but we are going to develop our own system for our educational system. I am glad you are involved in this. It is going to be a big help to us.
It is going to take time, but we are going to do it somehow.
I would like to thank Jerry Cohen. Are you here? (affirmative response) Please stand up. I want to thank you very much, because I know you sent correspondence to Assemblyman Corodemus and you want to help us also. Thank you.
We have two more speakers to put on. Where's the list? Mike Keegan and Henry Smolen. Henry, are you there?
H E N R Y S M O L E N: Yes, sir.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Okay. You know, even though we are not all here now, we save the best for last. We did not mean it to go on this long. Somehow the list got longer. We should have had it a little shorter, but it is all going to be put together and we are going to use everything we have here to put a program together.
Please identify yourself and who you are with, each one of you.
M I C H A E L K E E G A N: I am Mike Keegan. I am with the Gloucester County Institute of Technology. It is a vocational school in the southern part of the county. We have changed our name to match what we are trying to do, that is, going into the high-tech area.
My purpose for being here is twofold: First of all, the State of New Jersey has an apprenticeship program through the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. You heard earlier today, and one of you asked, how do you track that? That is tracked through apprentice coordinators at the 21 counties in the State. Those 21 counties are represented by an organization called ANJAC. ANJAC is the Association that keeps us together and makes sure that we keep all the integrity of the registered apprentice program intact. That is our only purpose. We pay no dues. We only work to make sure that the apprentice program is all that it can be.
We are out there ready and willing to serve. We check on our apprentices. We register the apprentices. We make sure they get their 8000 hours. We make sure they get their 144 hours a year of related training. That is really our purpose.
With that, as new programs develop-- One of the other things we got involved with was the State Employment and Training Commission investigating the apprenticeship model, and, again, went to Germany and around in Europe and saw that this was the best model by which to train people. At the time, I was President of the ANJAC Association, and testified that we did not want the integrity of the registered apprentice program jeopardized by using the term "youth apprentice." With that, after several testimonies along that line, they were challenged by the SETC. If I was so concerned with the process of registered apprentice, then why didnd't I go ahead and start a program? I was one of the first of 10 programs in the State that was funded to youth apprentices.
Despite some of the things you have heard here, we looked at, from the Department of Labor, what were the demand occupations and what were they in the future in my little county, Gloucester County, what were they in the future and where would those jobs be in the year 2000 and beyond? At the time, it was the chemical and petrochemical area. I went in and was able, through the auspices of the Southern New Jersey Development Council, to bring the CEOs of all the chemical companies and oil refineries to the table to discuss youth apprenticeship.
We recruited 27 youngsters to bring into that program. The first day that we began the program, 9 of them walked off the job. They were not ready, even though we had prepared them the best we could to go into steam and smoke and the business and industry of hazardous occupations. We found out that 8 of those students completed the program. Of those 8, all 8 went on to college. All 8 went on to college and are still in college -- they are going into their junior year -- and are in occupations other than what they identified with when they went into the program.
So these students were not vocational students. They were from the comprehensive high schools. They were identified, for the most part, by the principals, not the guidance department, but by the principals. That model has not continued because the funding has changed somewhat. We want to go back to that model again this year with the urging of our partners in business and industry. They want to go back to that model, and that is what we are going to do.
We have developed some other programs. We now have several programs. We have one in law enforcement. We have one in banking and finance. Again, demand occupations that are going to be needed in our area. We have one in YTTW, which is in the manufacturing and the skilled trade areas. That is broken up between 10 students going on an apprenticeship program and 10 students who are high school dropouts. This past year, recruiting those 10 students, we recruited over 135 high school dropouts. Thirty-five of those are still maintained in the program. We have them in an adult regional high school, also providing each one of those students with a job.
Those students were not capable of going on to an apprenticeship program. Despite some of the other things you may have heard today, students can go into the apprenticeship program before they are 18 years old. There is a thing called the Linkage Program. While they are bona fide students they can be linked into the program, and that program will count as they go through their apprenticeship.
Lastly, we need to continue that lifelong learning process. Myself, I started out as a laborer and went into the skilled trades as a welder/steamfitter. I went on to work for du Pont's for 13 years as a millwright. I was involved with the apprenticeship program there. I went out from there, and I have been in education for the past 23 years, involved in training apprentices.
It breaks my heart to see students, or young people of 26, 27 years old, coming in again -- as the representative of the community colleges said -- now looking for a start. We need to get started earlier. We need that linkage. School-to-work is that linkage. School-to-work does not negate the Tech Prep initiative. School-to-work, when it is run correctly, has that linkage with apprenticeship, has that linkage with the community colleges, and has that linkage with four-year institutions. So that career ladder, no matter what the trade area or what program they are in -- that career ladder should have an outcome goal.
With that, I am sure you have heard enough testimony today, so I would like to introduce the dean of the apprenticeship coordinators, Mr. Henry Smolen.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Mike, before you leave, Gloucester County Institute of Technology-- Is that a community college?
MR. KEEGAN: No, that is the vocational school.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Oh, it's a vocational school.
MR. KEEGAN: We changed our name, again, to represent-- We did not feel the stigmatism that hangs with vocational training represented what we were trying to do in our program.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I think they told us in Germany -- or in Europe somewhere -- that the students start looking at the direction they are going in grammar school, actually.
MR. KEEGAN: That's true.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Am I right?
MR. KEEGAN: Yes, that's true.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: As I recall. I'll tell you, we went from morning to night, late every day. There was so much material that I can't remember it all.
MR. KEEGAN: We do career aspiration for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to help them experience some kind of career planning, no matter what that career is. It is not limited to the vocational school. It is career.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I remember seeing young students at that level.
Okay, thank you.
MR. KEEGAN: Henry?
H E N R Y S M O L E N: Good afternoon. We started off early this morning, and we asked the police officer to lock the door so that nobody else leaves. Nevertheless, thank you for the opportunity of coming here. Our President in the Association of Apprenticeship Coordinators, Edmund Turenne, unfortunately, has some medical problems he has to attend to, so I have been given the opportunity, as Mike said, the dean-- They gave me that title of Dean only because of my age. I will be turning 70 very shortly, and I just put in my letter of--
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: That's okay. I'm already there.
MR. SMOLEN: You are? Congratulations. You, too, are in your golden years. I went from heart surgery to knee surgery to cancer surgery, so I am in my golden years.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I have had nothing so far.
MR. SMOLEN: I represent the Essex County Vocational School. That is where I am the Apprentice Coordinator. I have certainly been privileged and honored to be their coordinator for the past 25 years.
One of the persons here on the dais asked, "What happened to vocational education?" Well, I can tell you something about what happened to vocational education in Essex County. In the past seven years, we have closed three vocational schools because of budgetary restraints between the State of New Jersey and the County Freeholders themselves. Things being the way they are, the economy and everything else, we closed down three schools that were completely filled with students. We had to turn them back to the various municipalities because of budgetary restraints.
Vo-tech -- I believe you indicated something about the name, vocational education, that we have to change the concept. I have been with vocational education for 36 years now. It used to be recognized as the dumping grounds for students. Can you picture that today in vocational education? We bought a CNC machine to computerize numerical control. We spent $62,000. Can you picture a dumping grounds where you take students and dump them there to operate a machine like that? Why, the employers would go crazy. You can't do those things.
So we, too, have done like all the other counties have done -- high tech, that is what we call it. We call ourselves the Essex County Technical and Vocational High School. We try to incorporate all. But there are a great many things that we, all of us-- We read about it, we see it, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to present some of my thoughts and comments.
I picked up a magazine -- and we all know the magazine, Time magazine. This was about two years ago. They had an interesting article in there, "Whatever Happened to Made in America?" That is where I took notice. Three-quarters of all the VCRs, TVs, single-lens cameras, and motorcycles were made in Japan. Japan builds one-third of all the cars in the world and constructs half of all the ships launched each year in the world. Over 15 percent of the world's industrial needs come from and are made in Japan -- 15 percent.
Moreover, clothing from Taiwan, shoes from Italy, and Germany's industrial equipment has also taken a chunk of the business from American manufacturers. You mentioned that you were there in Germany, and I am sure you experienced and saw the technology that they imply and employ in the training there. The most important thing that we don't have is the finances that go with that. That makes us close vocational schools down. That makes us shortchange the needs we have. I am sure you saw it. I am only repeating what I read and what you saw. A billion dollars a year just for apprenticeship training.
Just in case anyone questions or doubts that kind of a fund, there is an article in here (holds up magazine) and I will be more than happy-- "Germany's competitive advantage -- $10 billion." Wouldn't it be great if we could do something like that in the United States?
The plumbing union was here and they indicated that, you know, there is no construction. Well, here is another article. "More Jersey Firms Pull Up Stakes to Seek Better Climate in Pennsy." We did a study in Essex County -- I cannot speak for the other counties, but I can speak for Essex County -- why the majority of those employers moved out of the county. "Where are you going? Let's move back there." Well, many of them moved because they needed more space, they needed a lower tax rate, but each one of them, no matter what their problem was, always injected something that one of the other fellows said right here, who left earlier -- the lack of skilled help.
Our economy is horrible, but it is still taking place. In Essex County -- again I say I can only speak for Essex County -- every mom-and-pop shop where they have toolmakers and machinists, can they use apprentices? "Yes, we certainly can. Man, we certainly can." "Then why don't you hire apprentices, because apprentices are gainfully employed and we train them." He said, "I have to pay unemployment if I lay them off, because the job I have is only six weeks." So what does that mon-and-pop shop do? He is the bookkeeper, he is the production worker, he is the machinist, he is the custodian, he is anything and everything necessary within the shop, because he can't afford anything else. There is no assistance.
Maryland-- I just received a letter from an associate of mine, a man who has a job similar to mine, from Dover, Delaware. Excuse me, I said Maryland. His state has, for years, been providing, for free, related instructions in apprenticeship -- related instructions for free. No charge, no cost whatsoever.
The plumbers indicated that they do their own. Boy, that is a tough way of doing it. I think the gentleman from NJIT said, "Yes, that is a very costly operation." Divorce yourself from it, because you can do it as we do it at the Police Academy in Essex County. We have taken all of the municipalities and coordinated them into one. Instead of buying educational equipment for all the other municipalities in Essex County, we buy one. They bought 15 of the same thing. We buy 15 different kinds of tapes to make the police officer -- by golly, we need that training there, too, and they get it -- to make them more concerned and more adaptable to the needs, to what a police officer has to do. It is a job. God love them, I'm glad that we have people who want to be police officers. I don't. It's a tough job when you have a uniform.
In Essex, the nicest thing that can be done is to continue the kind of approach that should have been done years ago, so I would not have had to read these statements here, three-quarters of the TVs and the VCRs are made in Japan. All the industrial supplies in Germany-- It is because they have the talent there. We should have it. We have the knowledgeable kinds of persons, but, unfortunately, we do not have the go-around of funds to make our job a lot easier.
Mike is the Apprentice Coordinator. He probably has five other hats that he wears as well. I am the Apprentice Coordinator in Essex County, and I have over 900 apprentices in my program. I am supposed to, legally, by law, be a full-time apprentice coordinator, but I, too, wear three different hats. I take care of food handling programs, I take care of licensing programs, and a few other programs -- the stationary engineers for their licenses as well. So we are all kind of pushing and cutting ourselves short, where we shouldn't be.
I don't want to bore you with any more details on this, because apprenticeship is in here and I can put it over here as well, but I will be redundant because of what many of the other people have said here this morning. The one most important thing they have all said is that their association, their desires, their likes, and their support are all for vocational education.
With that, the last thing I would like to leave you with is, as Mike said, we are members of the Association of New Jersey Apprenticeship Coordinators. These booklets we put out at our own expense. They do not cost the State a dime. We pay for it, we print it, because we want to publicize apprenticeship in the State of New Jersey.
Thank you for the opportunity.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You know, speaking of what is made here, I was trying to buy an American copy machine. I said that I would buy Canon. Do you know that was made in Japan? I didn't know that.
MR. SMOLEN: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: I don't believe there is a copy machine made in this country. I don't know of any.
MR. SMOLEN: I don't know of any.
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: You know, it's crazy.
Thank you very much. We appreciate it. And thanks for being so patient.
DR. SIMKO: Mr. Chairman?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: Yes?
DR. SIMKO: Is it lunchtime?
ASSEMBLYMAN AZZOLINA: We're leaving now.
The hearing is adjourned.