With the objective to boost employment in industries with high demand for skilled workers, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Robert Karabinchak and Clinton Calabrese was approved Thursday by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
The bill (A-4843) would require county colleges and county vocational school districts in New Jersey to enter into a Work and Learn Consortium to create certificate and degree programs that lead to employment in industries with the highest labor demand. The consortium will work with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and local workforce investment boards to identify and address industries in need of qualified workers.
“New Jersey is a wealth of opportunity for those looking to master a skill and join the workforce,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “From advanced manufacturing to transportation and logistics, employers are searching every day for skilled workers. The goal of this legislation is to create more pathways for people to learn skills that are in demand and find gainful employment.”
Under the bill, a consortium would form partnerships with four-year public of independent institutions of higher education to provide additional certificates and baccalaureate degrees under consortium programs. It would also work with businesses to provide internships and identify needed credentials, and collaborate with local chambers of commerce to select industry and business partners and promote the consortium’s work.
“Fostering collaboration between the business community and higher education will undoubtedly lead to more people being trained for in-demand work,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “With more opportunities for training, we can guide more workers to a lot of good paying jobs still out there in New Jersey’s labor market.”
“More students will have the opportunity to earn stackable, valuable credentials through the consortium created under this bill. These credentials will establish the students’ skills and knowledge and increase their marketability in the workforce. This is a win-win for workers and employers,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The credentials help increase the students’ likelihood of landing higher wage, in-demand jobs while assisting employers to more easily find men and women qualified for the job.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.