DOL celebrates Apprenticeship Week with notice that $2M more in grants are available

Robert Asaro-Angelo. (File photo)

It’s one thing to talk about all the money that has been distributed through grants for apprenticeship programs — and the state’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development can do just that.

It’s another to announce the millions of dollars more that need to be distributed.

On Monday, in conjunction with National Apprenticeship Week, the DOL announced the availability of $2 million through the Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education grant program that is better known as PACE.

The DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship will host remote technical assistance workshops on Friday and Nov. 29 to provide guidance to potential applicants. A letter of intent is due Dec. 30; the application deadline is Jan. 6, 2023.

For more information on the program, click here.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said apprenticeship programs are key for workforce development.

“Apprenticeship programs play a critical role in the strength of our state’s workforce and have consistently proven to be a vital solution to developing talent in areas where we need it most,” he said. “Apprentices can be found in virtually any realm, from HVAC to human resources, from the pharmacy to fusion energy research, and so many more.”

Since Gov. Phil Murphy took office, 542 new registered apprenticeship programs have been created in New Jersey — an 89% increase — and 12,442 new apprentices have been onboarded. The state currently has more than 8,200 active apprentices in 1,153 programs.

Notably, under the Murphy administration, apprenticeship grant programs funded by the state have more than doubled the number of women enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs in New Jersey.

The PACE program was developed primarily to help alleviate economic barriers that hinder upskilling. PACE programs provide job readiness, essential skills and occupation-specific training, and funding can be used to offer stipends to offset costs of supportive services, such as child care and transportation.

Pre-apprenticeship programs funded through PACE provide education and training to prepare participants for placement into a Registered Apprenticeship program, into a post-secondary college or occupation-specific career training program, or into the workforce. PACE programs must be partnered with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor. Together, the programs expand career pathways with industry-based training and classroom instruction, leading to better-paying positions and advanced credentials. Programs funded in Fiscal Year 2022 span a variety of sectors, including health care, practical nursing and truck driving.

Stephanie Harris-Kuiper, executive director of New Jersey Health Care Employers, District 1199J’s Training and Development Fund, a PACE grantee, said the program has impact.

“The PACE program has allowed us to train, mentor and place New Jersey residents into federal health care apprenticeships, including out-of-school youth, adults and incumbent workers looking to enter nursing, one of the state’s high-growth industries,” she said.

“The real advantage of the PACE program is its ability to both help employers meet their hiring demands and service the community at large with vital and effective health care training.”

In FY22, the DOL distributed $6,749,000 through three grant programs that support the growth of Registered Apprenticeships across the state.

The individual grant funds and the totals distributed through each program:

  • Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE), which awarded $1,078,000;
  • Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS), which awarded $4,636,000;
  • Youth Transitions to Work (YTTW), which awarded $1,034,000.

In total, 24 contracts were awarded under these programs, contributing to the recruitment of 1,214 apprentices.