Legislature Approves Bill To Increase Funding For Unemployed And Displaced Workers Training Programs

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored that would allow the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to request additional funding from the state to provide basic skills training to help displaced and disadvantaged workers learn the skills they need to successfully return to the workforce passed the General Assembly yesterday and now heads to the Governor for consideration.

“Many workers in New Jersey continue to remain unemployed because they do not posses the skills needed to enter a global job market that is based more on technology, math and sciences,” said by state Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, a sponsor of the bill. “The New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development offers unique programs throughout the state to train and educate displaced and unemployed workers so they may enhance and grow their skills and find employment in today’s economy.”

Currently the Consortium receives 13 percent of all funds appropriated annually to the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills (SWFBS) to provide basic skills programs to New Jersey’s displaced or disadvantaged workers and unemployed. The bill, S-873, would allow the Consortium to request additional funds from the SWFBS up to 25 percent of the total fund which is allocated for basic skills training grants.

Additionally, the bill would allow employers to apply for a waiver removing them from the burden of paying their employees while receiving basic skills training at the Consortium. Due to feedback from small businesses who financially could not release their employees during business hours to attend basic skills training or afford to pay employees’ hourly wage during weekend and evenings trainings, the state Department of Labor recently made a regulatory change allowing for this waiver at non-Consortium training centers.

“This partnership between New Jersey’s county colleges, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey’s businesses and unemployed New Jerseyans is a nationally-pioneering collaboration,” added Cunningham. “By continuing to support these programs by allowing the Consortium to apply for and receive additional funding, the state can help expand this successful model and provide more New Jerseyans with access to cutting-edge educational opportunities.”

The NJ Workforce Consortium is a collaboration between New Jersey’s 19 county colleges to provide coordinated one-stop workforce training and education services for businesses and unemployed and displaced workers. The Consortium offers workforce skills programs such as time management, computer skills, remedial math, English as a second language and job safety courses.

The bill was approved by the Assembly with a vote of 78-0. It passed the full Senate last month with a vote of 39-0.

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