The School District is the largest provider of Pre-K through 12 education in the City, making it an important part of ensuring Trenton has a competitive workforce. The “School Reform Initiative” is aimed at better educating residents and expanding the ability of schools to teach students workforce, social, and critical thinking skills. In parallel, the City will leverage and expand the existing community resources that support student’s ability to successfully graduate and then engage in post-secondary academic and career opportunities. The goal should be to successfully create a bridge between pre-k through 12 education and gainful employment or post-secondary education.
The City should work in partnership with the School Board and its education stakeholders to create a strong connection between pre-K through 12 education and career and post-secondary schooling opportunities. This can be accomplished by establishing evidence-based mentorship programs (for example, City Year) and leadership/civic development programs. Moreover, the City should create a fund dedicated to supporting career exposure and learning opportunities that will broaden the perspectives and knowledge of students. This fund should support the efforts of Capital City My Brother’s Keeper employability efforts.
At the same time, the City should continue the work with Trenton Central High School Small Learning Communities to establish internships and work opportunities with local businesses, state government, and non-profits during the school year and in the summer, and connect students to workforce providers offering career readiness and industry-based career exploration, training, and placement opportunities. The Mayor’s Summer Employment initiative for youth, in partnership with the Capital City My Brother’s Keeper initiative, is working to ensure that all job training service providers in the City of Trenton are aligned and/or using best practices in training and are training for occupations/industries that are high-paying and available in the regional economy. The City should continue this effort and document the results. This effort should expand to ensure that workforce services offered through the Mercer Country Workforce Investment Board and local workforce providers are aligned with the industries identified as part of Trenton250’s Economic Development Report.
The City of Trenton should also support the development of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming and advisory committees in each Trenton Central High School Small Learning Community. This programming should leverage partnerships between local and regional businesses and Trenton schools to inform curriculum, prepare students for careers in specific industries, and create career exposure and learning opportunities during the school year and summertime for students. Each CTE should be staffed with an Employer Relations Coordinator who will help students to access after-school and summer internships.
Finally, the School Board should investigate a partnership with Mercer County Community College to offer a 4+1 curriculum for occupational certifications and/or associates degrees. This program would allow students to complete 4 years of secondary school and then receive an occupational certificate or associate's degree after completing only one additional year of post-secondary education.