Job skills roundtable

Business. A roundtable was recently held to aim toward closing Northern New Jersey job skills gap and to expand STEM opportunities.

22 Jan 2020 | 11:49

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with Sussex County Community College (SCCC), Thorlabs, and New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, hosted a roundtable to discuss ongoing cooperation to close the middle-skill jobs gap in North Jersey, to identify federal investment opportunities to expand STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) training, and to continue the public-private partnerships supporting SCCC’s optics technology programs.

Sussex County Community College recently established a new optical technology certificate program, with support from local technology leaders in producing curriculum and recruiting interested applicants. Discussions at today’s roundtable focused on expanding the talent pipeline for optical technology jobs and their national security applications.

“Coming together for these crucial discussions is foundational for making sure North Jersey and its workforce can adapt to the demands of businesses of all sizes in 2020 and in the future,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “One of the great challenges of our time and in our community, for me, is protecting and creating good-paying jobs in every sector of the economy. Schools of all types, but especially vocational and technical schools, are essential to training the workforce and the citizens of tomorrow. We’re incredibly blessed here in North Jersey to have some of the best schools and teachers in the country, including here at Sussex County Community College -- and especially with the Optics Technology associate degree SCCC now offers.

Gottheimer stated: “We need to continue making sure the right connections are being made between our schools, our employers, with public-private partnerships, and with federal grant and investment opportunities. We also need to continue making sure that the skill-sets being taught in our schools and are the skill-sets that businesses are looking for.”

Gottheimer was joined at Wednesday’s roundtable by SCCC President Dr. Jon Connolly, Inrad Optics CEO Amy Eskilson, Thorlabs Director of Optics Paul Melone, Thorlabs CNC Manager Navid Entezarian, Jamie La Couture of Thorlabs Community Relations, NY Photonics Director Tom Battley, Judith Fleischer of NJMEP, and Peter Russo of NJMEP.