Gov. Phil Murphy has talked about building apprenticeship programs in New Jersey to help create more middle-class jobs in the state since he began running for the office.
On Monday, he began to make good on that promise.
Murphy announced grant awards totaling $2.8 million to seven New Jersey businesses and higher education institutions for training programs. The hope is that they will employ 480 new apprentices within the next 12 months, starting them on a new career path.
State officials said the grant funds support a diverse range of programs. They are designed to promote economic growth by building experience in high-demand industry sectors such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, software development, clean energy and utilities, health care, and more. The funds support good-paying, skilled jobs for which there is expected to be a demand in New Jersey for years to come.
The grant recipients will begin or expand apprenticeship programs to train machinists, skilled tradesmen, auto technicians, tool & die makers, medical and lab techs, chemical techs, human resources staff, and others. Apprentices will earn at least $15 per hour.
“Our vision for a stronger and fairer New Jersey starts with workforce development,” Murphy said. “With these investments, we are providing residents of New Jersey with the necessary skills and training they need for good-paying jobs that will help move our economy forward.”
The grants are as follows:
- New Jersey Community College Consortium ($938,825): Machine operator 1, machinist, mechatronics technician, production technician, workforce development analyst;
- New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program ($569,000): Industrial manufacturing production technician, technical sales rep, certified logistics and control technician;
- Montclair State University ($523,280): Building repairer, carpenter, electrician, HVAC, plumber/steamfitter, child advocate, child welfare social worker, child counselor, mental health counselor, medical technologist, analytical chemist, instrumentalist chemist;
- Motors Management Corp. ($440,00): Automobile mechanic and diesel mechanic;
- ApprenticeIT ($169,290): Computer support specialist, desktop support technician;
- Interplex ($93,910): Tool & die maker;
- Employers Association of New Jersey ($24,000): Human resources administration.
Funding comes from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors, or GAINS, competitive grant, which was announced last fall.
The GAINS program promotes the creation and expansion of U.S. Labor Department-approved Registered Apprenticeship programs that drive economic development through skills and educational attainment and create paths to better-paying careers and advanced industry credentials.
The grant program also promotes diversity in Registered Apprenticeship programs by encouraging the hiring of underrepresented groups such as veterans, people with disabilities and ex-offenders.
The announcement was made at Sansone Auto Mall, part of the Motors Management Corp., which is receiving $440,000 to jumpstart its automotive technician and diesel mechanic program.
Sansone CEO John Pugliese said the grant will make a difference.
“Over the next several years, it is anticipated that New Jersey could experience a shortage of up to 25,000 technicians, as current technicians retire and the next generation gravitates to other occupations,” he said.
“The GAINS program will allow us to expand our apprenticeship program to various vocational high schools and community colleges. With this program, each apprentice will have the opportunity to become a Master Technician and have a meaningful and rewarding career.”
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said the grants will prove to be invaluable.
“Apprenticeships build a pipeline of skilled workers, create a viable career pathway for students and allow businesses to remain competitive and thrive,” he said. “We know that this investment in a stronger, fairer economy is good for everyone.”
Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis agreed.
“Apprenticeship and a college degree are often viewed as separate career tracks, but they’re really complementary,” she said.
“College students need workplace experiences before graduation, and apprentices gain from classroom instruction in subjects that reinforce what they learn on the job. Employers and students alike will benefit from the apprenticeship grants announced today.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said the grants will be a role in the big-picture outlook of the state.
“New Jersey is at the center of economic prosperity and innovation,” he said. “Creating different pathways for professional development is critically important and reaffirms our commitment to helping businesses and their employees succeed.
“This unique partnership invests in our workers and businesses and will help to promote a strong economy.”