TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator James Beach would establish the New Jersey Military Skills Council was signed into law Friday by the governor. The bill is an effort to keep New Jersey military bases in operation long term, by ensuring that the military installations and the business and industries that support them and well situated for the 21st century’s economic and military needs.
“We need to ensure that our military members are well trained and equipped to do their jobs, and that our civilian workforce has the skills necessary to ensure that industries supporting our local bases remain strong,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “Furthermore, by creating more economic opportunities surrounding these bases, we can hopefully help maintain their strength in the community as a means of benefiting the local region and state.”
The law, S-2003, will establish a council in the Department of State, comprised of the Secretary of State, the Adjutant General, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, the Chairperson of the State Employment and Training Commission, the Secretary of Higher Education, and the Commissioner of Education, or their designees, who would serve ex-officio.
The council will also include two legislators from each house, with one appointment each made by the Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Senate Minority Leader and Assembly Minority Leader. In addition, one public member will be appointed by the President of the Senate and one public member appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly.
The law provides that it will be the duty of the council to assess the condition of military skills and training in the State and to advise the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education on expenditures from the Workforce Development Partnership Fund and other State funds for the training and education of workers in preparation for jobs with the military and supporting industries.
The law requires the council, in developing an assessment of the condition of military skills and training in the State, to develop a comprehensive needs analysis of the State’s military installations and key industries. The skills council will also look into barriers impeding workforce alignment with the federal government and offer solutions to overcome those barriers. Furthermore, the council will identify opportunities for growth and deficiencies in the current skill sets of the workforce. Another aspect of this council will be to examine methods to develop and align curriculum, specifically science, technology, engineering, and math, at all levels of education in preparation for jobs with the military and supporting industries, as well as methods for increasing enrollment of students of all ages in science, technology, engineering, and math programs.
This legislation is part of a package of legislation by Senator Beach looking to build more economic opportunities for communities surrounding the military bases in New Jersey. S-1992, which facilitates coordination of land use planning between civilian and military interests to preserve viability of federal military installations within state is currently on the governor’s desk. S-2199, which provides incentives for certain businesses associated with military installations, was introduced in May.
The law takes effect immediately.