Trenton – The Senate Labor Committee today approved three bills that would strengthen current apprenticeship programs and allow for the creation of a new job training program for apprentice workers.
The first bill, S-4207, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, would increase the registration fees assessed under the Public Works Contractor Registration Act, strengthen the provisions of that law regarding the enforcement of the program requirements and require certification with federal requirements of compliance for apprenticeship programs.
“It is imperative that we ensure our apprenticeship programs are properly following requirements,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “We have recently seen an uptick of programs that are not complying with regulation—and that is unacceptable. By having the Department of Labor ensure that the programs meet all requirements, we will be able to make sure that all public works apprenticeship programs are operating appropriately under the established requirements.”
Under the bill, the apprenticeship program registration fees will rise to $500 for the initial and second annual registration, and after two years the fee would be raised to $750. Additionally, contractors registering their apprenticeship program within the Department of Labor would be required to provide a certification form, provided by the commissioner, which would establish that the program the contractor is participating in meets all of the requirements of the Public Works Contractor Registration Act and the federal requirements for registered apprenticeships.
The second bill, S-1573, sponsored by Senator James Beach, would establish the “New Jersey Works Act.” The bill would permit businesses to create pre-employment training programs in partnership with nonprofit organizations or educational institutions.
“Investments from this bill would be a huge asset for low- to moderate-income families that may not be able to pay for relevant workforce training programs,” said Senator Beach (Camden/Burlington). “We have seen success in other states that have implemented financial incentives to improve job training programs, and it is time for New Jersey to join that list. By implementing this program, we can create equal employment opportunities for all workers.”
Under the bill, institutions of higher education, comprehensive high schools, county vocational schools or nonprofit organizations would be able to partner with a business to establish a pre-employment and work readiness training program. The purpose of the program would be to recruit, prepare, and educate individuals for entry-level jobs with long-term career potential through paid training programs.
Additionally, businesses would be able to receive a credit against their corporation business tax or gross income tax in order to fully cover any financial assistance provided to support a qualified pre-employment and work readiness training program that is approved by the State Employment and Training Commission. A maximum of $12 million in tax credits per State fiscal year would be granted to eligible businesses.
The third bill, S-3585, sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, would allow participating partners in a school-to-apprenticeship linkage program to make agreements allowing secondary classroom experience to count as credit towards the classroom training portion of the program.
“School-to-apprenticeship linkage programs combine work-based, on-the-job learning with relevant technical education in the classroom, allowing participants in these programs to develop innovative and creative ideas,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “By expanding the requirements of classroom training, we can help those participating in these programs develop exceptional skills as they are able to increase their involvement within fields they find appealing. This bill is critical to help our future workers become well-rounded in the field they enjoy without needing the conventional classroom training that may not work for everyone.”
Under the bill, partners participating in the agreement would be required to consult and gain approval from the United States Department of Labor before making agreements to authorize secondary classroom experience as credit towards the apprenticeship program.