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Ruiz, Greenstein, Singleton Bill Package to Expand Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs Advances

TRENTON – A comprehensive 10 bill package was introduced by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Linda Greenstein to address the structural impediments that currently preclude a true reflection of New Jersey’s workforce through the vehicle of apprenticeships.

“Establishing more accessible pathways to apprenticeships in New Jersey would expand opportunities to residents throughout the state, especially the most underrepresented populations in high-demand industries,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Our mission is to create an innovative way to bring industry and our communities together. By doing so we are opening windows of opportunity to individuals who historically would not have had the means or access to these industries.”

These bills develop and expand a more robust apprenticeship program, particularly in high growth industries, by creating the necessary infrastructure that include: providing tax incentives for businesses; establishing pre-apprenticeship, youth and adult programs regionally; addressing areas hindering participation in apprenticeship programs by providing tuition fee waivers for college; childcare and transportation subsidies; and establishing a statewide commission to diversify apprenticeships with a special focus on the recruitment and retention of women, minorities and the disabled. The bills that were released in committee today are the first three out of the 10 bill package.

“Providing tax incentives for businesses that create and expand apprenticeship programs that take into account the barriers facing many in our communities is a wise investment for New Jersey,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Increased opportunities for our residents to obtain the guidance, skills and experience that come with apprenticeships collectively benefits individuals, families, communities, businesses and the state.”

“We need to instill in the minds of our students that four-year colleges are not the only avenue that lead to landing successful careers,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Establishing youth apprenticeship programs in our schools would provide students the opportunity to acquire valuable career skills in a format that integrates into the traditional structured curriculum. This would open the door to more options for our students as they move into the next chapter of their lives.”

The following bills were released from the Senate Labor Committee today and next head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration:

S.3061 (Ruiz/Greenstein) – Provides corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for businesses that participate in Department of Labor registered apprenticeship programs; establishes grant program for tax-exempt organizations participating in DOL registered apprenticeship programs. The bill advanced from committee by a vote of 5-0.

S.3063 (Ruiz) – Provides tuition fee waiver for apprenticeship courses. Under this bill, higher education facilities would be required to waive tuition fees of apprenticeship courses for eligible candidates whose gross combined household income is below the state’s median annual income at the time of admission. The bill advanced from committee by a vote of 5-0.

S.3065 (Ruiz/Singleton) – Establishes youth apprenticeship pilot program in Department of Education. Under this bill, the Commissioner of Education would be directed to establish a three-year youth apprenticeship pilot program to provide high school and college students between the ages of 16 and 21 an opportunity to develop valuable work skills while continuing their traditional education curriculum. The bill advanced from committee by a vote of 5-0.