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State Cabinet members promote apprenticeship in visit to MCVTS East Brunswick Campus

State Cabinet members promote apprenticeship in MCVTS visit

Three members of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Cabinet toured classrooms on the East Brunswick Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools and promoted apprenticeship as a path to career success along with college and post-secondary certificate programs.

The Nov. 16 visit by Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Robert Asaro-Angelo and Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis was the climax of Apprenticeship Week in New Jersey.

Dr. Repollet announced that acceptance into an apprenticeship program will be considered a successful outcome for graduates on their schools’ performance reports, the so-called state “report cards.”

“Our job is to make sure everyone has the opportunity for a successful career track,” he said. “Too many times we try to force students into pathways they don’t want.”

Dr. Smith Ellis said her department is revitalizing a program called NJ PLACE (Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education), which gives college credit to students who successfully complete apprenticeship programs.

“We know that hands-on experiential learning helps with classroom education,” she said.

The three officials stressed that Gov. Murphy has encouraged them to work together – to “get out of our silos” – to improve outcomes for students.

“There is no one-size-fits-all career path,” Asaro-Angelo said. “The reason we’re all-in on apprenticeship is because it works.”

The MCVTS apprenticeship program currently has 250 student electricians and plumbers enrolled. In addition, a number of graduates have been accepted into the apprentice program of the New Jersey Carpenters Apprenticeship Training and Education Fund. 

Also attending the event were Bernard Treml, state director of the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor, and Kyle Anderson, the interim executive county superintendent of schools and a member of the MCVTS Board of Education.

The officials were taken on a tour by East Brunswick Campus by Principal Michael Cappiello and East Brunswick School of Career Development Principal Robert Feldman.

In the health services classroom, senior Destiny Fazzino of Perth Amboy told them she wants to work in a hospital maternity ward and has already been offered a job.

“These are the types of things we’re working on now, so that you get the experience needed to get a job,” Repollet said.

In the pre-engineering and advanced manufacturing classroom, Will Farmer, a junior from Old Bridge who hopes to become a manufacturing engineer, demonstrated a model of a robotic claw arm and conveyor that might be used to assemble products. Isabella Benanti, a junior from East Brunswick, gave a presentation on hydraulics.

“When I was growing up, I never had a classroom that looked like this,” Repollet said.

MCVTS Superintendent of Schools Dianne Veilleux welcomed the officials.

“We’re really proud of our students and the opportunities we are providing for them every day,” she said.

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has campuses in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. The MCVTS Adult School offers a daytime program in practical nursing, and evening programs in electrical technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; manicuring;  plumbing technology, and skin care, as well as apprentice training in business and office occupations, construction trades and manufacturing industries, and customized training that can be developed to meet the needs of employers.