Measures Will Ease the Transition of Military Spouses, Servicemen, and Veterans into New Jersey’s Workforce
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Linda R. Greenstein and Jim Beach that would support military families by allowing qualified military spouses to teach in New Jersey schools while completing additional requirements for teacher certification was signed into law today.
“The life of a military spouse is already made difficult by repeated deployments and having to move from state to state. There is no reason why finding employment should be a part of that difficulty,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “When it comes to teaching, we should be doing all that we can to encourage more qualified individuals to take up that respected profession. Through this important package of bills, we can show support for our military families and make their transition into our state as seamless as possible.”
The law, S-1927/A-2892, requires the state Board of Education to issue temporary instructional certificates to nonresident spouses of active duty members of the Armed Forces who are subject to a military transfer into New Jersey. When issuing these certificates, the Board of Education will consider whether the military spouse holds a valid and current teaching license in another state for which there is an equivalent grade-level or subject endorsement, has taught successfully for at least three years, has met New Jersey’s grade point average requirement for instructional certification or has completed continuing education courses. The temporary certificate will be valid for 180 days and may be extended for an additional 180 days to provide the military spouse with the opportunity to meet New Jersey’s teaching certification requirements.
“Military spouses sacrifice every day as their husbands and wives protect our country, and they should not have to put their careers on hold due to licensing restrictions,” Senator Beach, D-Camden. “Supporting our military families is one of the most basic American values, and now more than ever, we need to reduce the social and financial hardships that come along with relocating across state lines. By granting temporary licenses during the lengthy application process, this bill will not only prevent extended periods of unemployment but also ensure that we are doing our part for these heroic families.”
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 26 percent of military spouses are unemployed and currently seeking work – which is more than three times the national unemployment rate. Additionally, one-third of all military spouses work in a field that requires state licensure, with teaching being the most common occupation for a military spouse. To date, 23 states have enacted legislation to support military spouse professional license portability.
The law marks the third piece of legislation sponsored by Senators Beach and Greenstein aimed at improving license portability for military spouses in New Jersey. A measure (S-1906/A-2889) that would provide temporary nursing licenses for military spouses was signed into law in December. A third bill (S-2544/A-3427) that would grant temporary courtesy licenses to military spouses in all other professions and occupations – aside from nursing and teaching – for one year while they fulfill the requirements for a permanent license in New Jersey was today approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill received unanimous approval by the full Assembly in January. It now heads to Senate floor for consideration.
These bills are part of a greater legislative package focused on increasing employment opportunities for veterans and military families. In May, two bills that would help veterans transition from the battlefield into good-paying New Jersey jobs by easing duplicative licensing and credentialing requirements were signed into law.
The first law, S-2034/A-2882, sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan and Jim Beach provides veterans or active duty members of the Armed Forces with exemptions or waivers from licensure requirements when their military training, education or experience is equivalent to the requirements for state licensure or certification. The second law, S-1681/A-2555, sponsored by Senators Beach and Paul A. Sarlo, allows the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to waive the skills test for commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants who have experience operating commercial vehicles in the military.
In June 2012, President Obama announced the creation of the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force to identify opportunities for service members to earn civilian occupation credentials and licenses specifically in the high-tech manufacturing sectors. The Senators note that this fast-track licensing should not be limited to manufacturing jobs, but should occur across all licensed occupations.
Both laws were unanimously approved by the Legislature in March. S-2034 takes effect in 12 months and S-1681 takes effect in six months.