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Cunningham Measure To Increase Funding For Unemployed And Displaced Workers Training Programs Approved By Senate

Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee’s hearing on the FY 2011 Budget bills.

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 approved today by the full Senate.

“Math, computer and technology are part of a growing list of skills needed for New Jersey’s workers to compete in today’s evolving global workforce. A lack of these skills is often keeping displaced and unemployed workers throughout the state from finding new jobs,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “The New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development provides courses and opportunities that work to expand these knowledge areas for the unemployed so that they may 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.

“By partnering with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and business throughout the state, New Jersey’s community colleges have created a first-in-the-nation model for how to train and educate displaced and unemployed workers,” added Senator Cunningham. “This bill will allow them to apply for and receive additional resources so that they can expand and grow their programs, providing more New Jerseyans access to these important educational opportunities.”

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 passed the full Senate with a vote of 39-0. It now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.

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