GARWOOD — When Matthew Carr learned about an on-the-job training opportunity with Cranford Plumbing and Heating, he believed he found a career he would enjoy for a lifetime. Cranford P&H of Garwood has been in business for over 11 years and is one of many employers joining with the Elizabeth Development Company (EDC) to help Union County residents learn a new trade, start a new career and meet the qualified staffing needs of local employers.
Carr, 27, and a resident of Roselle Park, was certified and referred to Cranford P&H by the Union County One-Stop Center, a component of the Union County Freeholder’s Workforce Investment Board.
Under the on-the-job training program, employers receive wage subsidies of up to half of a new employee’s gross wages. This can go on for up to 26 weeks to help defray the costs of their employment training. They may even qualify for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit — up to $5,000 over 2 years and they may use their OJT program to help fund the first 6 months of an apprenticeship program for qualified participants.
“The combination of learning the trades of both plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) are unique in this industry, and could often times be very lucrative,” says John DiFabio, owner/operator of Cranford Plumbing and Heating. DiFabio has over 35 years of experience in the plumbing and HVAC industry and specializes in serving the Union County community, both residential and commercial. Running a 10-person operation, DiFabio is hoping his two OJT trainees do well enough to enter into his apprenticeship program. The average annual income for someone in this industry is $40,000 to $80,000 per year, according to DiFabio.
EDC launched this new initiative to help train and fill the jobs of local employers and help residents gain employment. The new initiative is specifically for qualifying Union County residents, such as displaced workers, veterans, and/or homemakers re-entering the workforce.
“At EDC, we are definitely working to help our businesses prosper. The OJT program provides incentives to help them find and train qualified unemployed workers, but more importantly our placements make $16.50 per hour, twice the minimum wage. Not only will this help our businesses, it will help our communities thrive,” says Newton Burkett, chairman of the Elizabeth Development Company.
When asked about how the program has impacted his business, DiFabio said, “I think this is an excellent program because it’s really hard to find people who want to spend the time to learn this kind of trade. Although this industry is stable, it’s hard work and a person really needs to have a passion for this kind career. My two trainees are doing so well, I told other business colleagues that they should consider signing up for the OJT program. To me, it’s a win-win; we employ residents and I get motivated employees.”
In addition, DiFabio regularly sends his employees to industry certified training workshops so they may stay current with all the changing and new technologies impacting his business.
The initiative is funded by Union County Freeholder’s Workforce Investment Board, City of Elizabeth Community Development Block Grant, and Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit through NJ Department of Community Affairs. The Elizabeth Development Company is actively seeking employers, from various industries, who are willing to hire and train residents seeking employment.
“The On-the-Job Training initiative is a win-win for County residents and businesses, which both benefit from this program,” said Union County Freeholder Sergio Granados. “Programs like this are helping to build a better skilled workforce, meet the needs for high-demand jobs, and ultimately strengthen the Union County’s economy.”
Granados thanked all of the partners involved for their effort in providing innovative job collaboration, adding, “The goal is to enable our businesses and residents to be able to compete and win in the new economy.”
Employers interested in more information about the OJT program may call Fatimah Raymond, Program Director at the Elizabeth Development Company at 908-289-0262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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