Pilot Program Would Allow Unemployed, Underemployed Individuals to Earn Credentials in One Year
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson sponsored to help unemployed and underemployed New Jersey residents acquire the job skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-2190) would direct the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to establish a pilot program to help unemployed and underemployed individuals complete a year-long career and technical education certificate program.
“Advancing in the job market without post-secondary education or training is now more difficult than ever before. As such, implementing programs that help people gain the skills they need is a crucial part of strengthening New Jersey’s workforce,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Employers right here in New Jersey are looking to hire hard-working, skilled people, and it would be a benefit to prospective employees, the business community and the state’s economy as a whole if more individuals could quickly receive the training they need to fill those in-demand jobs.”
Under the pilot program, the commissioner, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education, county colleges, county vocational school districts and the Adult Education-High School Equivalency Office in the Department of Education, would design a pilot program to help unemployed and underemployed adults with limited math, literacy or technical skills earn a career and technical certificate and boost their chances of securing quality employment. The program would offer 20 industry-recognized certificates that each would take a maximum of 12 months to complete.
“Opportunities in high-paying industries are available in New Jersey, but in order to be successful, workers hoping to fill those positions must receive the proper training,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This program will help ensure that employers don’t have to look very far to find the qualified employees they need.”
“In addition to the ability to earn a paycheck, there’s a sense of pride that comes with working hard to learn a new skill and then being able to use that skill on the job,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Expanding training for unemployed and underemployed New Jersey residents will help these individuals not only put food on the table and a roof over their heads but also build a successful career.”
“Succeeding in today’s workforce means having the skills to respond to employers’ needs. Unfortunately, many job seekers struggle to gain those skills and make themselves more marketable,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By providing New Jersey residents with an avenue to pursue better opportunities, the state can help improve the quality of life for thousands of workers and their families.”
County colleges, county vocational school districts and adult education programs may voluntary elect to participate in the program by implementing one or more of the certificate programs. Participating entities would be required to submit an annual report to the LWD commissioner detailing the programs offered, the number of students enrolled in each program, the number of students who successfully completed each program and the percentage of students who found employment in the area in which they obtained a certificate or enrolled in additional educational offerings in that subject area.
The commissioner would be required to submit a report to the governor and the legislature by January 1, 2022 with an evaluation of the pilot program and its effectiveness. Under the bill, the program would expire on July 1, 2022, but the commissioner may recommend its continuation in the report.
The legislation would dedicate 10 percent of Workplace Development Partnership Fund revenues to the program.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.