$1.5M grant program aims to retrain displaced workers for in-demand jobs

The $1.5 million Opportunity Partnership Grant program introduced Thursday by the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development — one that rewards training facilities for helping to develop in-demand workers — is the latest effort by the state to retrain the workforce.

It appears to make a whole lot of sense.

The purpose of the OPG is to help displaced or dislocated workers secure gainful employment at sustainable wages by providing occupational training based on employers’ needs in the most in-demand industry sectors.

Essentially, the grant aims to provide for training to fill workforce skills gaps.

Here’s how it works:

  • A company has a need for an in-demand job (such as a welder) but can’t find any qualified applicants;
  • The company contracts with a welding training company — and promises to hire quality trained welders for at least six months at a minimum of $15 an hour;
  • The training company finds candidates at the One-Stop Career Center in its county;
  • The training company uses the grant (up to $6,000 per employee) to pay for training costs.

Upon completion, the company in need gets a trained employee — and the trained employee is now ready for the workforce of today.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said it’s a win-win.

“New Jersey has a strong workforce, but the available jobs don’t always match their skill set,” he said. “The Opportunity Partnership Grant helps train today’s workers for jobs in our state’s most in-demand sectors, with trainees earning industry-valued credentials that will jump-start their careers and earning potential.”

The DOL spells it out this way:

  • Eligible OPG applicants include N.J. Workforce Development Boards that engage external third-party training providers, post-secondary educational institutions and qualifying schools approved by the DOL. Training offered must lead to an industry-recognized certificate, credential or licensure required by employers, in in-demand industry sectors.
  • Proposals must include the training to be offered to qualified displaced or dislocated workers, with the intent to teach skills required by employer-partners to fill full-time job openings. Employer-partners must hire and retain selected individuals for at least six months following successful completion of training at a wage of at least $15 per hour.
  • Training applicants may be awarded up to $6,000 per trainee, to a maximum of $200,000. Grant recipients must collaborate with county One-Stop Career Centers to recruit eligible training program candidates.

Applications must be submitted by 3 p.m. March 8.

For more information, click here.