We tell our children to dream big and go far. We would be wise to also tell them that they can do both in New Jersey.
New Jersey is home to some of the best colleges and universities in the nation. CNBC pointed specifically to our higher education assets in its latest ranking of the Top States for Business. And the State’s elementary and secondary schools are consistently ranked amongst the country’s best, most recently by Wallet Hub.
It’s an important distinction and one that carries weight all over the world. Whether I’m talking with business leaders nearby or abroad, access to our highly educated workforce is always front and center when we discuss the merits of locating and growing a business in New Jersey.
Yet our State exports students at an alarming rate. More than 30,000 graduating seniors leave the State each year to go to college. These are students whom we’ve raised and nurtured and invested in, and that we’re proud to call our own.
Once they leave New Jersey, they are more likely to take their first job out of State and build their careers and raise their families there.
That “brain drain” has the potential to impact the State’s ability to offer employers the highly educated and diverse workforce that has become its calling card.
New Jersey can’t afford that.
Thanks to the leadership of PSE&G’s Ralph LaRossa, Audible’s Don Katz, Mayors Ras Baraka and Dana Redd and the support of business, faith, government and education leaders across New Jersey, we’ve launched a program to help keep our students here for college and beyond.
The new “Smart Students Choose New Jersey” program will reward the highest academically ranked graduating senior at every Newark and Camden high school that chooses to attend a New Jersey college or university. They will be provided both a scholarship and the offer to work three years of paid summer internships at some of the State’s top businesses and organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, labor organizations and small businesses that range across a variety of industries and sectors. A full list of program participants can be found at www.choosenj.com/smart
At our program launch, Ralph LaRossa said, “New Jersey’s highly educated workforce is one of its competitive advantages. It is a key reason why businesses choose to locate in the State and to stay and expand here. We need to do everything we can to encourage our best and brightest to stay.” That’s right.
This program has the potential to keep our most talented here, in careers and callings that have them providing their talent to the businesses that power the State. We’re piloting it in Camden and Newark and would love to make it bigger.
MICHELE BROWN, PRESIDENT & CEO – CHOOSE NEW JERSEY