A coalition has been formed in New Jersey to help match skilled workers to high-paying jobs that don't necessarily require college degrees.

(Credit: Christopher Robbins, ThinkStock)

Jobs are available in New Jersey, but there aren't enough skilled workers to fill them. To address the issue, a coalition of business leaders, labor unions, vocational-technical schools and top lawmakers has been formed to place workers with the available jobs. Many are high-paying positions that don't require applicants to have a college diploma.

"Everybody in my opinion is not made for college, or there may be a route to be able to go to college in the future," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus). "Technical education, I think, is an economic engine for the state of New Jersey and for these individuals to have a different pathway."

The effort is called the "New Jersey Employer Coalition for Technical Education." Under the plan, businesses will let vocational-technical schools know which jobs they have available and what training is need for those jobs. They will also contribute to course content. Lawmakers will explore the possibility of expanding vocational schools to improve career and technical training.

"There are studies that show about 27 percent of people who go into the trades or have a certificate make more money than people who have a bachelor's degree," Prieto said. "Other studies show that 65 percent of the workforce by 2020 is going to need more than high school, but not a four-year college education."

New Jersey has 21 county vocational school districts that offer a career-focused education. They provide more than 500 programs.

"The bottom line is that jobs are going unfilled in New Jersey because employers cannot find workers with the right skills," said Melanie Willoughby, senior vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "We want to be sure that New Jersey employers are able to fill their available positions with well-qualified workers."