New Jersey’s Innovation Workforce Pipeline

New Jersey has the most STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs per square mile in the United States. This is not surprising given innovation is a part of our DNA as New Jerseyans. From Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb to digital cellular networks built by Bell Labs engineers, we have a rich history of technological firsts. We are home to one of the most highly educated workforces in the United States.

highest high school graduation rate
in the U.S.

90.5% compared to the national average of 88%

NJ Workforce with a Bachelors degree or higher

Compared to the national average of 33%

NJ workforce with an advanced graduate or professional degree

Compared to 12% nationwide

In an increasingly knowledge-driven economy, human capital- the totality of knowledge, skills, and experience accumulated over time by the state’s workforce and access to human capital, plays a central role in an organization’s ability to flourish and innovate. New Jersey and its surrounding areas offer not only a well-educated workforce, but a strong STEM workforce.

Stem Occupations Based on O*Net Definition

wdt_ID New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA New Jersey  Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA
1 1.178.562 540.920 486.978 417.784

Colleges and Universities Leading the Way

In New Jersey, our robust community of higher education institutions offers you an ever-growing pool of qualified STEM talent. With 540,000 students enrolled at 63 colleges and universities, including six nationally recognized research universities, and innovative partnerships between academia and industry, New Jersey higher education institutions set the standard for educating the next generation of pioneers and driving the State’s talent and product pipeline forward.

Our institutions of higher education consistently earn recognition as among the best in the country. U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best College rankings name Princeton University #1 for the eleventh consecutive year.

STEM Degrees Awarded

wdt_ID New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA-All Schools  New Jersey  Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA-All Schools  San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA-All Schools  San Diego County, California-All Schools 
1 112.160 45.828 55.637 37.672 38.332

Source: JobsEQ February 2022

Within the STEM degrees, New Jersey colleges and universities have created specialized degrees to support the growing demands that the life sciences and technology sectors.

Specialized Life Sciences Programs

Cell and Gene Therapy

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in collaboration with its New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) offers one of the first Professional Science Masters (PSM) degree program and professional graduate certificate in cell and gene therapy. The program was developed to meet growing demands from the biopharmaceutical industry for trained scientists and engineers at the forefront of the coming wave of breakthrough gene and cell therapies— currently spanning everything from advanced gene delivery technologies to immunotherapies such as CAR-T cancer therapy.

BioCentriq, the first cell and gene therapy manufacturing center of its kind to be located on a University Campus in the United States, also offers workforce development programs and an opportunity for NJIT students to get hands-on training in a cGMP manufacturing environment.

Pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and biotech

To support New Jersey’s pharmaceutical cluster, Rutgers University is home to a top 5 Business School for Healthcare, Pharma and Biotech worldwide according to More than half of the 20 largest pharma companies worldwide – companies like Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Novo Nordisk and Bayer Healthcare – call New Jersey home. So do a network of teaching hospitals and medical schools. The Pharmaceutical Management MBA curriculum is in sync with the rhythm of the industry, which means that students enter the workforce with readily applicable knowledge taught to you by distinguished academics and former executives.

Stevens Institute of Technology offers a top 20 Biomedical Engineering program in the U.S. Essential to the students’ experiences is the encouragement to paten their ideas. Stevens Institute of Technology also partners with the Hackensack Medical Center and UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, providing research opportunities to students.

Specialized Technology Programs


The New York/New Jersey region is the #2 fintech hub in the U.S. New Jersey is home to the headquarters of  IPC, Cognizant, Indecomm and NICE Actimize. Our colleges and universities support these companies through the following specialized programs:

Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken offers a highly-specialized Quantitative Finance program where students receive Bloomberg Certification in their freshman year. The first university in the nation to develop a PhD program in Financial Engineering, Stevens also offers undergraduate and graduate students practical “hands-on” experience at its Hanlon Financial Systems Lab. The Lab is a state-of-the-art research and teaching facility that integrates the latest hardware and software technologies to access real-time and historical data to support advanced financial research within its Business School.

The National Science Foundation selected Stevens as the first university to lead the first-ever industry-based cooperative research center, or IUCRC, devoted to financial technology and science.


New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Cybersecurity Research Center forges collaborations with government, industry, and academia to address pressing cybersecurity R&D needs. NJIT has launched its Jersey City location concentrating on Data Science and Computing with a specialized program that provides detailed technical knowledge in security, privacy, and cryptography applied to computer systems, networks, and web applications.

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is officially designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) institution by National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FDU’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance (MSCSIA) degree program is created in response to meet the challenges in the field of CSIA. The program prepares its graduates for employment or further advanced study, including doctorates, in this field and other related areas.

Specialized Advanced Manufacturing Programs

Rutgers University is home to the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Institute (NJAMI), which seeks to distinguish and elevate the state’s historic manufacturing profile while increasing synergistic economic activities in areas of technology supplies, software and consulting services. The School of Engineering opened its state-of-the-art, LEED-certified facility featuring flexible learning laboratories for advanced manufacturing and sustainable resources and systems. Students have hands-on access to facilities dedicated to rapid prototyping, pilot manufacturing, urban and coastal water systems, intelligent transportation systems.

NJIT was awarded $8 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships program to develop industry-driven strategies for apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing fields. The apprentice program focuses on mechatronics technicians, computer numerical control operators, plastics process technicians, light metals machinists and welders, and biological technicians.

Rowan was awarded $14.5M research grant from U.S. Department of Defense to modernize military equipment to develop innovative materials through using “cold-spray” advanced manufacturing technologies.

Workforce development

New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJLWD)’s registered apprenticeship program is a proven solution for recruiting, training. It is a relationship between an employer and an employee during which the employee, or apprentice, learns a high-skill occupation. The registered apprenticeship model combines both classroom/related technical instruction (RTI) and on-the-job training. A sponsor, who can be an individual employer or an association of employers, operates the apprentice training programs on a voluntary basis.

NJLWD also offers on-the-job training grants to help develop a workforce pipeline for local businesses. Employers who hire eligible workers and train them for a specific job will receive reimbursement of 50% of wages for up to 26 weeks up to $10,000. This grant is per individual and paid as direct reimbursement to the company. An employer can hire multiple employees through this program, each employee is eligible for the maximum benefit of $10,000. 

To support the growth of the emerging offshore wind industry in New Jersey, Atlantic Cape Community College broke ground in 2021 on a 1,700-square-foot Wind Training Center at the Worthington Atlantic City campus as part of a nearly $3 million state grant. The Wind Training Center is funded by the New Jersey Offshore Wind Safety Training Challenge grant, administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education with the support of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The college will establish an industry-recognized Global Wind Organization (GWO) safety training program and facility to prepare New Jersey workers for jobs in the state’s green economy.

Top Public Schools in the Country

New Jersey’s strength in education begins with its excellent early childhood education and K-12 education, where children get the foundation they need for academic success. Therefore, it is no surprise that our school system and high schools consistently receive national accolades:

Early Childhood Education

Source: US News & World Report 2021

Public School System

Source: Education Week 2020

STEM High School

Source: US News & World Report 2021

New Jersey is a national leader in ensuring all students have access to the internet and cutting edge digital learning resources essential for them to develop the 21st century skills needed for college and the workforce. Nearly 1.2 million students in 522 school districts have access to at least the minimum recommended broadband bandwidth, according to Education Superhighway.

New Jersey also is pioneering several innovative programs to ensure all pre-K through 12th grade students are prepared for the STEM jobs that will drive our economy in the future. For example, through the STEM Pathways Network (SPN), a program developed by the Secretary of Higher Education in conjunction with educators, entrepreneurs and industry leaders, New Jersey has created four ecosystems to reimagine how to deliver STEM subjects to pre-K to 12th grade students, through partnerships with industry, museums, afterschool providers, universities and parents.

New Jersey was the first state to give all students access to arts education in public schools. In the past decade, NJ educators have made a concerted effort to increase arts programming in the schools. Since 2009 there has been a 25% increase in participation. Studies continue to show the importance of creativity and problem solving as essential soft skills, which a robust arts foundation can provide.

Diversity and Immigration

On top of our homegrown talent, New Jersey continues to welcome new immigrants that help make our State remarkably diverse and prosperous. WalletHub’s “Economic Impact of Immigration by State” 2020 study ranks New Jersey:

Immigrant Workforce
Highest percentage of Jobs

Generated by immigrant-owned business and the highest percent of foreign-born STEM workers


Residing in New Jersey’s waters, the Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of New Jersey’s immigrant past and present. New Jersey is the fourth most diverse state in the nation with a 45% minority population. The State proudly boasts the second-largest population of foreign-born residents in the nation and immigrants make up nearly half (45%) of computer and mathematical occupations. We believe the plurality of our experiences and identities is an asset and makes innovation truly possible. 

As an ideal state for forward-thinking companies, due to our highly educated workforce and specialized, diverse talent pool, New Jersey is a perfect consideration for those looking to expand or relocate their facilities. With both site selection services and economic development connections, Choose New Jersey is ready to help life science and tech companies have a smooth landing and seamlessly continue their operations in a new home. To learn more about how you can thrive in New Jersey, please contact us today. 

Originally published August 2020. This blog was updated in February 2021 to include updated metrics and workforce development programs.

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