Mercer County Community College has received a $340,000 grant from the state Department of Education, aimed at enhancing the school’s business division.
The Career and Technical Education Partnership Project grant, a three-year award, looks to enhance teaching and student leadership in business, management and administration, and finance education at the school. According to Mercer, the grant will allow the school’s business teachers to learn about current business trends and develop programs to help high school students step right into college business programs that will give them more practical, up-to-date education and training for the working world.
The Center for Technical Education (CTE) project is a statewide program. Its main goals are to align statewide CTE programs with New Jersey’s high school core curriculum standards and industry standards; develop a CTE classroom module that charts at least one pathway to a high-wage, high-skill, or high-demand occupation; deliver professional development workshops for secondary administrators and educators; and enhance student leadership opportunities in technical organizations.
For Mercer, the grant ultimately is expected to provide a new way for high school students to start the conversation about their future careers. MCCC business professor and project administrator Ellen Benowitz says the plan is to provide an educational bridge from school to work, making students more aware of the relevance of their high school curriculum and better prepared to chart a course for career success.
According to Benowitz, first steps for the project will begin later this school year with the formation of two statewide advisory commissions — one for business, management, and administration, and one for finance. The commissions will identify business needs and industry credentials and certifications. Also on the agenda for the first year is the development of a workshop for educators that introduces the concept of career education and its relevance at the high school level. The second and third years of the grant will expand on the numbers of schools visited and teachers served.
Benowitz says it’s important to relate education to career goals starting in high school. “If you are going to insist that a student learn algebra, there should be tie-in with the real world of work,” she says. “Students are more likely to put their hearts and souls into their courses if they see the relevance.”