New Jersey is spending $200,000 to expand a program that encourages STEM careers for high-school students to a fourth school – the new Trenton Central High School.

Murphy said P-TECH – short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School – fits with his Jobs NJ initiative to better align the workforce with job opportunities. He said it provides a pathway for students to get associate’s degrees at no cost in a high-tech field along with hands-on workplace experience.

“These young folks will graduate, and they will get really good jobs – good wages, good benefits – allowing them over time to comfortably leg in and bring their own families up in a secure, middle-class environment in this great state,” Murphy said.

Burlington, New Brunswick and Paterson began the P-TECH program this year. Trenton’s group of students is expected to be the largest cohort at 150. Other schools could be added in the future.

Murphy said the program, which was developed by IBM, helps address the number-one concern he hears from business leaders of innovation companies: Do you have the workforce we need?

“The expected shortage of talent will be in what we call broadly speaking the middle-skills jobs. This program goes directly at that,” he said.

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The educational model was developed by IBM. It operates in 10 states in addition to New Jersey in about 100 schools in all, plus around 100 more schools outside of the United States.

It connects the program and its students to outside partners. In Trenton Central’s case, those are Mercer County Community College for coursework and M&S Centerless Grinding in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, for mentors and internships.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at