DOL offering $3M in grants for NJ PLACE 2.0 degree apprenticeship program

Program is way for next-generation workforce to get apprenticeship training, higher education

NJ PLACE 2.0 was launched last year as a program intended to give thousands of residents the education and resources they need to secure good-paying jobs while supporting employers who need to be connected to skilled talent.

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced there is now $3 million in grant funding available to help encourage the development of degree apprenticeship structures that integrate paid on-the-job learning with credit-bearing classroom education.

Degree apprenticeship programs developed under the NJ PLACE 2.0 grant allow student apprentices to earn college credits and an apprentice wage at the same time — thus removing the difficult choice between working to support themselves or attending classes to further their career.

Simply put, a degree apprenticeship program draws a direct line from the classroom to a career.

Applicants interested in applying for the NJ PLACE 2.0 program must submit a Letter of Intent to express interest in the grant opportunity no later than noon, April 16, and applications must be received no later than noon, April 23. Partnership between employer partner and degree-granting postsecondary institution applicants are required.

Grant funds are intended to cover direct costs of the degree apprenticeship program. Proposals that plan to reduce tuition costs for student apprentices will receive greater consideration.

The NJDOL’s Office of Apprenticeship will host remote technical assistance workshops on March 23 and March 30 to provide guidance to interested parties who meet the application requirements of the NGO. Preregistration three business days prior is required. To register, click here.

For more information, please read the full Notice of Grant Opportunity here.

“Apprenticeship and a postsecondary education are not mutually exclusive,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “When completed together, student apprentices can achieve both the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed to give them a competitive edge in a continuously evolving workforce.”

The degree apprenticeship model pairs apprenticeship partners with institutions of higher education to give student apprentices the opportunity to concurrently fulfill the requirements of a registered apprenticeship program and an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree by earning credit for paid work-based learning.

The grant program, NJ PLACE 2.0, also encourages institutions of higher education to conduct prior learning assessments for students who have already completed a registered apprenticeship program and award college credits retroactively.

Brian Bridges, secretary of higher education, said the program will help the state reach its higher goal.

“We remain committed to achieving our educational attainment goal of 65% of adults earning a high-quality degree or credential by 2025,” he said. “It is critically important to ensure viable career pathways remain available for students during this uncertain time.

“Through this grant funding, students will be offered access to experiential learning opportunities that will match their talent to industry needs and equip them to succeed well into the future.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said programs such as this one are part of his long-stated goal to bring more apprenticeship programs to the state.

“Building a stronger, fairer and more resilient New Jersey begins with job training and workforce development,” he said. “NJ PLACE 2.0 is one of the many programs that will spark our economic recovery, providing thousands of residents with the education and resources they need to secure good-paying jobs while supporting employers who need to be connected to skilled talent.”