Rice-Cunningham-Pou Bill Including African American & Hispanic Chambers of Commerce In Process to Facilitate Workforce Training Program Now Law

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice, Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Nellie Pou that aims to increase the diversity of program participants in a state-supported workforce development training program – through the involvement of the African American and Hispanic chamber of commerce, as well as other organizations, in promoting the program – was signed into law today by the governor.

“We know that minority communities are disproportionately affected by high unemployment. By ensuring the consortium is actively working with the African American and Hispanic chambers of commerce, as well as other organizations representing the diversity of the state, we will better ensure that sufficient workforce training is available for those who are most affected,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Increased training could provide greater access to work for residents and to higher paying jobs.”

“The consortium works with a number of business groups in its effort to promote and deliver workforce training in the state,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Engaging a diverse group of organizations in this effort will mean a more proactive approach to making sure that minority groups, which have higher rates of unemployment, have access to these important programs.”

“These programs benefit both workers and employers, improving employee skills while helping to meet the needs of businesses in New Jersey,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic). “In order to maximize the benefits, we have to make sure we are reaching residents across the state and from diverse backgrounds for participation. Including various groups in the process will better ensure that happens.”

The law (S-1761) directs the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to include the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey among the business organizations with which it collaborates in its efforts to facilitate the delivery by county colleges of basic skills training to New Jersey workplaces. It would also direct the consortium to seek out and work with additional state, regional, and county organizations that are dedicated to the economic empowerment of segments of society by race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

The New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development (NJCCCWED) works with employers and potential employees to either increase needed skills for business or assist veterans, unemployed, and underemployed people get training to find good jobs and careers with New Jersey companies. The workforce trainings they provide include Advance Manufacturing Training Initiative, Basic Skills Workforce Training, Training-on-Demand, and Ready to Work New Jersey.

Current New Jersey law directs the consortium to work with the business community, including chambers of commerce, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and any other business associations to promote the program in order to facilitate training.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 37-0. The Assembly approved it 67-1. The law takes effect immediately.

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