TRENTON – A wide-ranging plan to make apprenticeships more accessible for New Jersey residents particularly in high growth industries was introduced in the Senate. The 10 bills sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chair M. Teresa Ruiz are in collaboration with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and are based on its report released September 6, 2018 entitled “Becoming the United States of Opportunity: the Economic Equity and Growth Case for Apprenticeships.” This report highlighted how apprenticeship programs can strengthen our economy and advance economic opportunity by connecting residents—particularly women and people of color—to living wage careers.
National Apprenticeship Week which starts November 12th through the 16th is a national celebration that offers leaders in business, labor, education and others a chance to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship while highlighting their programs, facilities and apprentices in their community.
“Creating more accessible pathways to apprenticeships in New Jersey would lead to an invigorated economy, expanded opportunities for New Jersey residents and a more diversified workforce,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Our mission is to expand and create more economic opportunities throughout the state, by encouraging all industries to create pathways for underrepresented populations in high demand industries. This will allow our communities in the state to flourish by promoting a more robust effort for economic growth opportunities throughout the state.”
“We commend Senator Ruiz for her leadership in introducing legislation that will make New Jersey a national model in expanding economic opportunity through apprenticeships, especially for women and people of color,” said Demelza Baer, Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “In addition to opening the doors of opportunity, this legislation also removes barriers to completing an apprenticeship program, including a lack of affordable childcare and transportation. As our report, Becoming the United States of Opportunity: the Economic Equity and Growth Case for Apprenticeships, lays out, this is truly a win-win for the people of New Jersey and our businesses, and will position our state as the national model for an inclusive apprenticeship program.”
New Jersey is the seventh-worst state for income inequality in the nation, with people of color and women disproportionately represented among low-wage workers. Women of color also experience some of the worst pay gaps in the nation, as New Jersey is ranked last for pay equity among all 50 states for Latina women and in the top ten worst states for pay equity for Black women.
“I look forward to working with the Department of Labor to expand economic opportunity throughout the state,” said Senator Ruiz.
These bills propose the following recommendations to support and expand inclusive apprenticeship programs in New Jersey:
- S.3061 – Provides corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for businesses that participate in DOL registered apprenticeship programs; establishes grant program for tax-exempt organizations participating in DOL registered apprenticeship programs.
- S.3062 – Provides corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for businesses that employ apprentices in DOL registered apprenticeships.
- S.3063 – Provides tuition fee waiver apprenticeship courses.
- S.3064 – Establishes task force to develop State-wide plan to diversify apprenticeships.
- S.3065 – Establishes youth apprenticeship pilot program in Department of Education.
- S.3066 – Creates five-year High-Growth Industry Regional Apprenticeship Development Grant Pilot Program.
- S.3067 – Establishes five year Apprentice Assistance and Support Services Pilot Program.
- S.3068 – Requires Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to establish apprenticeship mentoring program for women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.
- S.3069 – Enhances pre-apprenticeship programs and allocates funds therefore.
- S.3070 – Concerns NJ PLACE program and allocates $300,000 for FY2019 therefore.
The bills are headed to the Senate Labor Committee for consideration.
The bills are also sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, the chair of the Senate Military & Veterans Committee, and Senator Linda Greenstein, the chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.