NJ Legislature Approves Bill To Help Students Learn About Career Opportunities

TRENTON – In an effort to ensure that high school students have reliable information concerning career and higher education opportunities, state Sens. Jim Beach and M. Teresa Ruiz sponsored legislation that would develop and distribute a career exploration report to students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 containing information about high-demand industries and the necessary education and training requirements to pursue these careers. The bill received final legislative approval on Thursday.

“While there is an increasing demand for workers in fields like technology and health care, many young adults face difficulty finding employment upon graduation. Especially in this tough economy, we should do everything we can to help match young people to available jobs,” said Beach, D-Camden. “By obtaining information about these high-growth industries, students will be able to make informed decisions concerning their future careers and take the first step in working towards these goals.”

The bill, S-2413/A-3270, would require the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, to develop a career exploration report that would provide students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 with information concerning employment in the fastest growing industries in the country and state.

The report would also include, at a minimum: information about projected growth rates and employment opportunities in those fields, the training and educational background needed to pursue those careers, the employment and salary levels for persons currently employed in those professions and occupations, and instructions on where to find employment data compiled by four-year public institutions of higher education for their graduates.

“High school is a transformative period in a young person’s life, and many students start making decisions about their future careers before they even graduate. As they transition into adulthood, students deserve access to up-to-date information about the fastest growing industries, requisite training programs, and higher education opportunities,” said Ruiz, D-Essex. “Through this legislation, we can help prepare young people to enter the workforce and set them up for long successful careers.”

Once completed, the career exploration report would be made available online through a prominently displayed link on the Department of Education’s website. Within 30 days of first appearing online, each school district and nonpublic school that enrolls students in grades 7 through 12 would be provided written notification informing them about the online availability of the report. Under the bill, each public school district would then be required to notify parents of students of the career exploration report’s availability online, as well as distribute a hard copy of the report upon request of a parent or guardian. Under the bill, non-public schools would be encouraged, but not required, to adopt these provisions.

The legislation today cleared the Senate by a vote of 35-0. The General Assembly approved the bill by a vote of 74-0. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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