NJ To Create “Talent Networks” To Identify Skills Job Seekers Need

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MORRIS TOWNSHIP — Commissioner Harold J. Wirths of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development delivered the keynote address at the United Way 2011 Public Officials Forum this week, announcing a new initiative to help job-seekers find careers in New Jersey’s most promising industries.

More than $1.6 million in federal Workforce Investment Act funds will be allocated by the department next month to begin building “Talent Networks” around each of seven industry sectors that are leading the state’s economy out of the recession, Wirths said.

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Each “Talent Network” will consist of workforce development organizations, civic groups and educational institutions that will invite employers in those seven industry sectors to identify exactly what skills and training are needed for jobseekers to become marketable. New Jersey’s workforce will then have the benefit of developing the skills and training needed to enter long-lasting careers within the state.

“We know where the job demand is and where it will be. … We already have re-deployed our labor market analysts to be industry experts to track economic trends,” Wirths told approximately 100 attendees of the United Way forum held May 23 at the College of St. Elizabeth.

“My department has targeted seven basic areas where job growth is the most promising. … We have identified these industry sectors through data that my department crunches every day, and we are confident enough to take action,” he added.

The seven key industries include:

1.Transportation, Logistics and Distribution: This includes warehousing, trucking firms, wholesale trade companies and firms that plan the movement of goods.

2. Life Sciences: This includes pharmaceutical firms, biotechnology companies and businesses developing medical devices. These are high paying, talent-driven jobs that require specialized skills.

3. Advanced Manufacturing: While we have lost many traditional manufacturing operations, we do have growth among high-tech, specialty manufacturers, such as those building navigation systems or working on defense contracts.

4. Financial Services: This area covers everything from banks and mortgage firms, to CPAs and support functions, such as programming and processing operations.

5. Health Care: This area was growing even at the height of the recession. It involves everything from direct care to support positions. The jobs range from aides and people working in doctor offices, to people collecting medical data or specializing in treatment.

6. Technology and Entrepreneurship: This involves a wide assortment of businesses, from start-up companies to telecommunication firms we see on the horizon.

7. Green Industries: This involves solar energy, off-shore wind power and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. This ranges from companies handling toxic clean-ups to firms helping businesses such as hotels move into using environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

“The state’s talented workforce is our most important strategic advantage in this knowledge-driven, global economy. But to help our workforce, we need to do a better job of understanding the talent and workforce needs of our key industries,” Wirths said at the United Way forum.


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