• Michael Torrissi Jr.

Perspective/Torrissi in Trenton


New Jersey Assemblyman (R-8) and Hammonton resident Michael Torrissi (top, left) took the oath of office on January 11 in Trenton. After the ceremony he posed for a picture with his wife Katie (next to Torrissi) and (bottom row) his father Michael, daughter Sophia and sister Carianne Torrissi. Torrissi previously served on town council. (Courtesy Photo)

It’s time we start telling students they have options. We’ve spent years teaching kids that there’s one true outcome after high school, and that’s to attend college.


Thankfully in New Jersey, we’ve created tons of apprenticeship programs and trade school opportunities, but creating them and changing the culture surrounding them are two different things. We need to be telling students that they can be just as successful choosing a trade as they can by going to college.


I’m a trucker and farmer from Hammonton. My family are farmers and my town is filled with blue-collar workers living the American Dream. As a lawmaker in Trenton, I’m often told that the American Dream is dead or impossible to reach. I’d tell those people to come to Hammonton and you’ll see it’s very much alive. It just takes some elbow grease.


I believe kids are hungry to learn these types of traits, but they need more guidance. That’s why I’ve introduced a bill to increase access to commercial driver licenses among young drivers.


I’m starting with what I know — the trucking industry. There are thousands of good paying jobs throughout the trucking industry, but it doesn’t stop there. Obtaining a CDL can open the door to the recycling industry, good-paying jobs on construction sites and more. It’s a skill that is in heavy demand and one that could be very lucrative to someone who wants to get a head start on their life-long earning potential.


The introduced bill would require New Jersey Motor Vehicles to establish a program to increase the number of young drivers who possess a commercial driver license. The program would be created in conjunction with experts in the commercial trucking industry. The main focus will be to raise awareness about the benefits of having a CDL and recruit young drivers into jobs that require a CDL.


In the past, whenever we brought up promoting CDL’s among younger drivers, people brought up valid points of the dangers of young drivers in 18-wheelers doing intrastate travel. While there’s a new federal program to explore the potential of 18-20 year olds driving across state lines, this bill runs on a separate course from that.


Open any newspaper or go to any job posting site, and you’ll see CDL-wanted ads. There’s no reason why a 19-year-old shouldn’t choose to start working at a trucking company instead of attending a four-year college if life-long learning isn’t their thing.


While that kid is making a good salary for four years and skipping college debt, by their mid-20s they might be in a position to buy a house and start a family, while their counterpart is digging out of a steep hole.


Trucking might not be for everyone, but you can say that for anything. College isn’t for everyone. Manufacturing isn’t for everyone. The service industry isn’t for everyone. But you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s time to bring access and knowledge to kids that there’s plenty of paths to take in order to achieve the American Dream.



Michael Torrissi Jr.

Assemblyman

8th District

Trenton