TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Shirley K. Turner that would create a pilot program to provide training to women for high-wage, high-demand occupations was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill is aimed at promoting economic self-sufficiency of low-income women through increased participation in these fields.
“It is our obligation to work to improve outcomes for women and other minority groups in career and technical education programs that are non-traditional for their gender,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Doing so will not only ensure that we have sufficient workers to meet market demands, but will expand opportunities for women to obtain high-skill and high-wage employment.”
“Breaking into traditional male-dominated fields is often difficult for women, and particularly low-income women, for a number of reasons including the specialized training required but also because of discrimination that can be associated with recruitment,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “We have to do more to remove barriers that prohibit women from entering these high paying fields and ensure that resources are available to help them gain traction and move up the ladder. This would be a major step forward in that effort.”
The bill (S2403) creates a Women’s Vocational Training Pilot Program within the Department of Labor. The program would provide women with education, training, and support for success in the workforce, specifically in nontraditional occupations, defined as a job sector or field where women account for 25 percent or less of those employed in the field. Nontraditional occupations span all major occupational groups including: architects, computer programmers, computer software and hardware engineers, detectives, chefs, barbers, clergy, engineers, computer and office machine repairers, construction and building inspectors, railroad conductors, machinists, truck drivers, fire fighters, aircraft pilots, and construction occupations, as well as certain occupations in the fields of customer service, health care, and tourism.
The pilot program would target women with family incomes below the local self-sufficiency standard, when available, or women in families with income of less than 200 percent of the poverty threshold. “Self-sufficiency standard” means a measure of how much income families need to cover their basic costs without subsidies, as determined or recognized by the State for an applicable local area.
The bill was approved by a vote of 9-0-2, and next heads to the Senate for consideration.