TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would allow the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to request additional funding from the state to provide basic skills training to help displaced and disadvantaged workers learn the skills they need to successfully return to the workforce was unanimously approved today by the Senate Labor Committee.
“Many of New Jersey’s displaced workers and unemployed are unable to find work because they do not possess the skills needed in the changing global workforce that relies more heavily on computers, technology and math skills,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “The programs offered by the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development provide opportunities for New Jerseyans to enhance and grow their skills, making them more marketable in today’s economy.”
Currently the Consortium receives 13 percent of all funds appropriated annually to the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills (SWFBS) to provide basic skills programs to New Jersey’s displaced or disadvantaged workers and unemployed. The bill, S-873, would allow the Consortium to request additional funds from the SWFBS up to 25 percent of the total fund which is allocated for basic skills training grants.
Additionally, the bill would allow employers to apply for a waiver removing them from the burden of paying their employees while receiving basic skills training at the Consortium. Due to feedback from small businesses who financially could not release their employees during business hours to attend basic skills training or afford to pay employees’ hourly wage during weekend and evenings trainings, the state Department of Labor recently made a regulatory change allowing for this waiver at non-Consortium training centers.
“This partnership between New Jersey’s county colleges, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey’s businesses and unemployed New Jerseyans is a nationally-pioneering collaboration,” added Senator Cunningham. “By providing additional funding to these programs, we can expand this successful model, train additional New Jerseyans with necessary career development and worker training programs, and market New Jersey workers as innovative leaders with cutting-edge skills to businesses both in New Jersey and throughout the nation.”
The NJ Workforce Consortium is a collaboration between New Jersey’s 19 county colleges to provide coordinated one-stop workforce training and education services for businesses and unemployed and displaced workers. The Consortium offers workforce skills programs such as time management, computer skills, remedial math, English as a second language and job safety courses.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.