National Thought Leaders Share Innovative Workforce and Education Insights with NJ Community College and Business Leaders at 2nd Annual NJ Pathways Summit in Atlantic City

Atlantic City, NJ, June 26, 2024 – More than 350 New Jersey Community College, education, state government, as well as workforce partners, business partners, and national experts gathered for the NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities Summit, “Expanding Innovative Workforce and Education Partnerships,” at Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. The conference held by New Jersey’s Community Colleges earlier this month focused on equitable education and training pathways which align to the needs of business.

“Hearing the insightful perspectives and experiences of these national thought leaders and engaging in conversations with them helps us chart the path for Year Three of the Pathways Initiative,” said Catherine Starghill, Esq., New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) Vice President. “As we build on the momentum of our accomplishments with more than 1,800 educational and business partners across New Jersey, the forward-thinking dialogue at this summit helps us think outside of the box and push our boundaries even further as we dive deeper into this transformative infrastructure of collaboration.”

The seven national speakers were: Dr. Chauncey Lennon, Vice President for Learning Work and Senior Strategy Advisor, Lumina Foundation; Scott Cheney, CEO, Credential Engine; Ken Sauer, Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer, Indiana Commission for Higher Education; Charlotte Cahill, Associate Vice President, Education, Jobs for the Future; Amanda Winters, Program Director, Post-Secondary Education, National Governors Association; Keith Witham, Vice President of Education, Philanthropy, Ascendium Education; and Paul Fain, Work Shift and The Job and the Cusp Podcast (former reporter and editor for Inside Higher Ed).

The speakers discussed the trends and innovations in education and training, specifically about national lessons learned regarding equity and access to high-quality credentials, the benefits of credential transparency to students, jobseekers, and employers, work-based learning and apprenticeships, and the overall future of work.

“Navigating the thousands of education and training choices is a challenge for anyone looking to get the right skills for their career path”, noted Cheney. “New Jersey’s Community Colleges are working to make that easier through more transparency, richer information about quality and outcomes, and clear links between what employers require and what they offer their students. Credential Engine is pleased to support this work so that New Jersey’s education and training systems are more equitable, efficient, and effective.”

Cahill told the crowd, “We need to think about perceptions about industries, like everything else they have ethnic, racial patterns. A lot of students are maybe not so interested because of what they’ve heard from parents, neighbors, relatives, and so we need to think about navigation in those careers paths that break down the pre-conceived ideas that young adults have about how friendly some industries are to different types of groups.”

NJ Pathways – formed by New Jersey’s Community Colleges and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) – brings together industry and education partners to form an education ecosystem that is connected statewide and is guided by industry leaders to build an innovative workforce in the Garden State. This cutting-edge initiative now has more than 1,800 industry and education partners statewide helping to propel New Jersey’s economy to new heights and it’s programs have served over 6,500 students, adult learners, and education professionals.

Fain added, “This is a must-watch, ambitious project from the New Jersey Community Colleges. The Pathways work touches on all of the most promising strategies that I’m hearing about as states seek to tighten connections between education and work.”

Special appreciation to Dr. Brian Bridges, New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Michael McDonough, President, Raritan Valley Community Colleges, and Christopher Emigholz, Chief Government Affairs Officer, NNJBIA, who gave opening remarks.

“NIBIA is proud to partner with New Jersey’s Community Colleges on the Pathways Initiative so that businesses have a seat at the table when determining education in our colleges needed for the jobs of tomorrow. It is essential for being the most competitive workforce possible,” said Emigholz.

NJ Pathways to Career Opportunities milestones achieved to date include:

  • The creation of four industry collaboratives focused on health services, infrastructure and energy, manufacturing and supply chain management, and technology and innovation;
  • The creation of sustainable partnerships – “a paradigm shift” – between industry and education so that industry may directly influence education and training pathways to ensure future employees have the skills and training needed by businesses in New Jersey;
  • The engagement of over 1,800 industry and education partners in one pathways focused, statewide ecosystem;
  • The creation of as many as 10 Centers of Workforce Innovation focused on occupations across the four industry collaboratives in which cross-education sector partners build new and enhance existing education and training pathways for traditional students, adult learners, and workers;
  • The development of 67 education and training pathways, workshops, registered apprenticeships, pilots, and professional development sessions to met learners where they are for the live-long learning required of our competitive economy; and
  • Over 6,500 high school students, college students, adult learners, workers, and education professionals participated in NJ Pathways funded workshops, courses, apprenticeships, training programs, and professional development sessions.


About the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC)

Governed by the presidents and trustees of the state’s 18 Community Colleges and enshrined in state law, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) supports New Jersey’s Community Colleges and the more than 230,000 students they serve annually across 49 locations by fostering collaboration and developing solutions that expand access to college, promote equity and student success, and create a skilled workforce to drive economic growth.

NJCCC brings together the state’s Community Colleges to build a world-class, flexible higher education and workforce development system that can respond to the needs of local communities and employers while having statewide reach and impact. NJCCC promotes innovation and policy changes to help New Jersey’s Community Colleges in their efforts to achieve academic, social, and economic mobility for all residents. The Council’s New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development builds statewide industry, education, and labor partnerships that align education and training with the needs of a changing economy.

To learn more about NJCCC and New Jersey’s Community Colleges, go to Follow us @NJCommColleges on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to learn more about our latest programs and initiatives.