The Camden County board of commissioners joined federal, state and local partners at the Camden County Technical School in Pennsauken on Thursday to break ground on an approximately $14 million expansion of its renowned culinary program. The expansion of both the Pennsauken and Gloucester Township campuses will begin Thursday with a $24 million investment into critical classroom space to train a 21st century workforce.
“The mission of our technical schools is vital to workforce development in Camden County, so we can have a strong foundation of employees in a variety of fields,” Ed McDonnell, Camden County commissioner deputy director, stated. “With this funding, CCTS will be able to continue its outstanding curriculum, from robotics to culinary education, while also expanding its technical education programming and career opportunities. This grant money will greatly benefit the students and employers across the county, and we’re excited for the future at CCTS.”
For the Pennsauken campus, the renovation will add a total of 20,000 square feet to the building, which will house culinary career labs on two floors along with two theory/instructional classrooms and an instructional support/service simulation kitchen for front-of-house instructional practices. The addition also will allow for the installation of an elevator connecting the ground floor to the mezzanine level.
“These expansions are going play a huge role in helping our students and prospective students be as prepared for the work force as they can be, come graduation,” Commissioner Jon Young stated.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) talked about the impact of these new investments into both campuses and the effect it will have on students.
“As a proud graduate of New Jersey public schools, I’m excited to see Camden County and the state investing in critical workforce development programs that empower local students to be career-ready on Day One,” Norcross, who is an electrician by trade, said. “The new facilities will increase opportunities for our kids and equip them with the technical skills they need to succeed anywhere from the professional kitchen to the robotics lab. Camden County Technical Schools play a critical role in our education system, and I’m going to keep fighting in Congress to bring additional funding for school construction and workforce development programs to South Jersey.”
The expansion at the Pennsauken campus will open new seats for 80 culinary arts students over four years and will allow the additional enrollment of 20 students in other career and technical programs. By the end of the fourth school year following project’s completion, the school will be able to accommodate 100 more students, increasing enrollment by 14%.
“Also, in reviewing our admissions data, we have found on average more than 40% of incoming students request culinary arts as one of their Top 3 career choices on their application. In fact, culinary arts is the highest career program area of interest for freshman applicants,” Karen DiGiacobbe, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, assessment and grants for CCTS, said.
In addition to the Pennsauken campus, the Gloucester Township campus was awarded $5.25 million to create a new career program based around manufacturing engineering technology. The project will add an additional 19,206 square feet to Building 6, which will house the new career program, a MET Career Lab, a MET Design Theory Lab, three career and technical education-related theory/instructional rooms, a MET Simulation Lab and a MET Physical Science Lab, as well as a large group instruction area and related support spaces.
To offer a wider range of CTE programming to students, the Gloucester Township project will increase capacity by 80 MET students over the course of four years and reduce bottlenecks in other career programs allowing the additional enrollment of 40 new students in other CTE programs. This will enable the school to enroll 120 more students at the Gloucester Township campus, increasing participation in CTE programs by 10%.
“The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act construction projects, like the ones happening at Camden County Technical Schools, will not only add space to better meet student demand, but will create and update classrooms with the latest tools and technologies used by professionals across all industries,” Jackie Burke, executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, said. “The investment made by both the state and Camden County’s commissioners will prepare a new generation of skilled workers to find personal career success while aiding their local and state economies.”