RCGC's Stacking credentials add up to meet employment demands
Deptford Twp. – On Tuesday, March 27, seven local industry partners stepped forward along with officials from Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC), Rowan University, the Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) and state and county government to introduce the Rowan Work & Learn Consortium — a new program that addresses college affordability while meeting employment demands within the local job market.
"This unique and creative partnership serves as a model for how our community colleges should be working with our state institutions to create alternative pathways for students," said N.J. Senate President Steve Sweeney. “It addresses several critical issues, including the affordability of a college education, access to a four-year degree program, vocational skills and workforce preparation. This approach is consistent with our commitment to vocational education and workforce development and can serve as a model for others in New Jersey.”
RCGC and Rowan University are working in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, along with GCIT, Gloucester County’s Chamber of Commerce, Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Economic Development to launch this new, customizable approach to higher education that brings together vocational schools, county colleges, four-year universities and local business partners to produce graduates ready to be hired within high-demand positions.
“The Rowan Work & Learn Consortium will help further the economic success for our residents and our region,” remarked Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger. “Our businesses and industries are in need of a skilled labor workforce and this program provides our students, both traditional and nontraditional, with a pathway to earning affordable and accessible degrees and certificates.”
Business partners from each of the seven areas of high labor demand within the state will serve on an advisory board to identify certifications and training that are in-demand within each field and provide paid internship opportunities. Participating industry partners include: Paulsboro Refinery, representing the Advanced Manufacturing industry; South Jersey Federal Credit Union, representing the Financial Services industry; Owens and Minor, representing the Transportation, Logistics and Distribution industry; Rowan Medicine, representing the Health Care industry; Wedgewood Pharmacy, representing the Biopharmaceutical Life Sciences industry; the Marriott Glassboro, representing the Hospitality, Retail and Tourism industry; and Greyhawk, representing the Construction Management industry.
“The sky is truly the limit with this program,” said RCGC Education Liaison Freeholder Lyman Barnes. “The opportunity for our vocational school, county college and Rowan University to create specialized degree programs developed in conjunction with business and industry leaders to address the seven highest areas of labor demand in the state will offer our students an edge in the workforce.”
Added GCIT Superintendent of Schools Michael Dicken, “Being part of the Rowan Work & Learn Consortium will provide the students of the Gloucester County Institute of Technology the opportunity to continue on their career pathway while gaining valuable credentials, certificates and advanced training after high school. The Consortium promotes quality career and technical education opportunities that will better prepare our students for careers as well as college, making them more marketable to employers.”
Rowan Work & Learn represents the first packaged consortium between a two-year college and a four-year university in the state of New Jersey. What makes this initiative distinct is the concept of partnering higher-education institutions and stacking industry-valued credentials to allow students to become marketable faster while providing flexibility for “stop out” points if necessary. Each academic year completed will result in credentials verified by industry leaders as well as the Workforce Development Board of Gloucester County and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. All academic paths included in the Consortium will support an industry-specific certification, an associate degree, a certificate of undergraduate study and culminate in a bachelor’s degree.
“The Rowan Work & Learn Consortium will not only help to prepare our graduates with the education, experience and credentials they need to enter a high-demand field, but it will strengthen our local workforce by making it easier and more rewarding for our talented students to remain in the state after graduation,” stated RCGC President Frederick Keating.
This new program offers a perfect opportunity for both traditional and non-traditional students alike. Traditional college students benefit from accumulating industry-valued credentials enabling them to begin working within their desired career long before graduation. High school students, who may have previously considered going directly into the workforce after graduation and not attending college, can now pursue programs in an industry with future educational growth. Non-traditional students can take advantage of prior learning assessments that award college credit for previous work experience.
RCGC will provide the first two years of coursework, with the second two supplied by Rowan University. All of the Work & Learn courses will be offered on RCGC’s campus or online. An advisor assigned to work with the students will ensure they remain on the right academic path and are placed in the internship that best prepares them for their future career.
“There may not be another partnership quite like this in the country,” said Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand. “We have County Government, higher education, and a broad range of companies all working together to strengthen the region and provide opportunity.”
The Consortium was created in direct response to the State’s campaign to accelerate the pace of establishing a skilled labor workforce for employment positions needing to be filled within New Jersey. Further bolstering the program is a $1.2 million grant awarded to RCGC by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development for the creation of a Financial Services Talent Development Center on the College’s Deptford Township campus that will provide innovative career pathways and apprenticeships in accounting, banking, insurance and financial technology. Through this state initiative, RCGC will focus on training unemployed and incumbent workers for financial occupations by providing basic-skills training, career awareness events and internship opportunities dedicated to bridging the gap between education and employment.
For more information about the Rowan Work & Learn Consortium, visit RCGC.edu/WorkandLearn.
Rowan College at Gloucester County is located at 1400 Tanyard Road in Deptford, just off Exit 56 of Route 55.