(TRENTON) – With the goal to empower underrepresented groups in apprenticeship programs, legislation to establish an apprenticeship mentoring program for women, minorities and individuals with disabilities received final legislative approval on Monday, passing the full Assembly 73-0. It passed the Senate in February, 38-0, and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
The bill (A-1408), would require the New Jersey Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, in consultation with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education and the Chief Diversity Officer of New Jersey, to create the peer-to-peer statewide apprenticeship mentoring program. It would also require the Commissioner of Labor to analyze which groups of people are underrepresented in industries across the state, and then form employee resource groups for apprentices in those industries.
The measure’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic), released the following joint statement:
“Women, people of color and those with disabilities can face unique challenges in the workplace. They may be unsure of how to navigate their industry, or how to handle potential harassment, discrimination or alienation. Though they may receive a mentor through their apprenticeship, the mentor is often not one of their peers, and they may feel uncomfortable asking questions. For example, a woman may not want to ask a male mentor about how to respond to sexual harassment on the job.
“The peer-to-peer apprenticeship mentoring program created under this bill aims to provide women, minorities and people with disabilities more opportunities to connect with peers in their industry, as well as support underrepresented groups in certain trades.”