The panel on workforce development stressed the need to align curriculum with industry needs in order to produce a workforce to support and grow the state’s indigenous industries and economy. Stevens Institute of Technology President, Nariman Favardin and The College of NJ President, Barbara Gitenstein spoke in depth about higher education meeting the demands of employers and creating an employable workforce.
There is also a need for greater communication between the two groups for improved partnerships and focusing on STEM education. Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Les Vail said making the business community aware of the resources available to it has proven to be “one of the biggest challenges.” Vail said creating a more effective awareness campaign and a streamlined process for accessing information should be a top priority across the state. New Jersey should also not steer away from its focus on STEM education, Vail said. “This state is building tremendously from STEM education,” Vail added.
Additionally, NJBIA's Michele Siekerka also cited our Building Bridges II: Breaking Down Barriers: Perspectives from Academia and Industry on Building a New Jersey Innovation Ecosystem that INJ published with NJ Policy Research Organization. The report highlights 5 challenges that currently inhibit greater collaboration between industry and higher education and 15 recommendations to address these hurdles.
On the Select Panel on Taxes, Ted Zangari, Esq. of Sills Cummis, spoke about how higher education institutions play a key role in sustaining New Jersey’s high quality of life, and the need for the state to leverage these assets to compete in the Northeast for business investment. Peter Crowley, CEO and President of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, added that New Jersey needs to support the startup community, which feeds into the greater business ecosystem. “We have to help small business with capital gains loses when they are in the startup phase and growing phase,” he said. “We need to help them, because if they won’t, they will leave us.”
The summit concluded with a panel featuring the four legislative leaders who debated what the best course of action is to address such issues as renewing the Transportation Trust Fund and providing tax relief to stop the out migration of wealth from New Jersey. However they also spoke briefly about how NJ's higher education should be leveraged for innovation and the business community.