N.J. gets $450K grant from feds to build apprenticeship opportunities

Gov. Phil Murphy has been pushing the value of apprenticeships since before he took office. The state just got more federal money to help in that aim.

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced Wednesday it has been awarded a $450,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship programs.

The NJDOL’s Office of Apprenticeship said it will use these funds to register additional apprenticeship programs in the health care field in response to the needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds also will help increase participation of underrepresented populations, namely women and minority groups, by enhancing technology and data-sharing across the state to better serve current and future apprentices.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo was thrilled to get the grant.

“Registered apprenticeship has served as the gold standard for training and up-skilling our workforce in the United States for more than 80 years,” he said. “We are proud to be leading the nation in apprenticeship growth and opportunities under the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy.

“By securing this grant, New Jersey will continue to build on its commitment to support apprenticeship career pathways that lead to economically sustainable wages for women and people of color in the health care sector. This grant will also support our employer partners by helping them develop a highly skilled workforce, which is the foundation of our ability to thrive and complete globally as a state.”

The funding for the grant comes from the USDOL’s “Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation” grant program, which awarded funds to 42 states and U.S. territories to support the improvement and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs. These resources allow states to focus on local apprenticeship needs while boosting employer engagement, performance and positive outcomes for apprentices.

Since Murphy took office, the number of registered apprenticeship programs in New Jersey has increased 50%, and there has been a 25% increase in active apprentices statewide. As of July 13, more than 8,508 apprentices were participating in 915 apprenticeship programs throughout the state.

While the number of apprentices in the state has remained steady, the number of registered apprenticeship programs has declined over the past four months due to the pandemic. The USDOL grant funding will be used to bolster New Jersey apprenticeship programs and create more opportunities for career seekers to earn a wage while learning valuable skills on which to build their careers.