Have a need to fill positions in a field where an apprenticeship program would really help? The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development may have grants available to make that happen.
On Friday, a second round of $4 million in available funding was released through the Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors, or GAINS, grant program.
The first round of $3.5 million for the fiscal year was released in September 2022 — and it went to some really nontraditional roles, such as cybersecurity, hairstylist and truck driver.
Proposals must provide new apprentices a starting wage of no less than $16 per hour, unless a lower rate is justified. GAINS funding can be used to reimburse up to 50% of new apprentices’ wages, for a maximum of $12,000 per apprentice over 52 work weeks.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said one benefit of the earn-while-you-learn program is that apprentices get paid while they are in the program.
“The earn-while-you-learn model plays a critical role in developing trained and skilled workers where they’re needed most, and removes the tough choice between learning new skills and earning a wage,” he said. “Apprenticeship programs provide workers with the stability of a fair wage during training and throughout their careers.”
Previous Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors, or GAINS, grant funding in fiscal year 2023 was awarded to eight applicants to onboard more than 700 apprentices in occupations, including:
- Community health
- Home health aide
- Pharmacy support
- Associate preschool teacher
- Massage therapist
- Truck driver
The GAINS grant program promotes expansion of U.S. Department of Labor-approved Registered Apprenticeship programs to support better-paying careers and the attainment of advanced credentials. The program seeks to develop new and existing apprenticeship programs and create Registered Apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries. The particular focus of GAINS grants is to promote equality of opportunity, upward mobility and economic fairness.
The GAINS program prioritizes applications targeting underrepresented populations as specified in the Notice of Grant Opportunity. GAINS grants have provided unprecedented opportunities for women and people of color, with more than two-thirds of GAINS grantees being females or minorities, twice the average among all apprenticeship programs in the state.
Women account for 67% of GAINS apprentices, greater than seven times the statewide average of female apprentices when Gov. Phil Murphy took office in 2018. Currently, more than half of GAINS apprentices are in the health care sector and supporting the COVID-19 response.
The GAINS grant is part of Murphy’s New Jersey Apprenticeship Network, an initiative that seeks to make the Garden State a leader for apprenticeship programs nationwide and provide options for all New Jerseyans to build meaningful careers across a wide range of employers. During Murphy’s administration, New Jersey has created 544 new Registered Apprenticeship programs — an 89% increase — and onboarded 13,483 new apprentices. The state currently has more than 8,200 active apprentices in over 1,150 programs.