The Murphy administration unveiled the details Wednesday of its new “Jobs NJ” program, whose mission according to the governor is to ensure that the state’s workforce is prepared, and employable, in the event of another economic recession down the road.
Job NJ will focus on boosting the number of industry-credentials, training programs and graduates by the hundreds of thousands by 2025.
“At some point, there’s going to be a recession and we didn’t plan that well last time,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press conference at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School in East Brunswick. “One of the reasons New Jersey took so long to recover” from the last recession was “because many of the jobs we lost never came back and residents were left untrained and unprepared for the new jobs that eventually beckoned,” he added.
Jobs NJ will focus on eight industries that the Murphy administration has repeatedly highlighted over the past 15 months: life sciences, information technology, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, food and beverage, finance and insurance, and film and digital media.
“If we’re not making the kinds of investments in workforce development… we could lose that competitive advantage, and that would be a shame, that would render us in a much more challenging position to compete long-term for the businesses of the future,” Tim Sullivan, who heads the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said Wednesday.
By 2025, the Murphy administration hopes to have an additional 250,000 African American, “Latinx” and Native American residents with postsecondary degrees, be it a college degree, technical education or an industry-specific credential – and aid “other targeted populations.”
Under the plan, average wages would go up between $15,000 and $23,000 for women and people of color, and increase educational attainment by at least 45 percent in each of the state’s 21 counties.
Murphy said that the only part of the plan requiring legislative approval, as of now, will be a grant program to help colleges gauge how they can keep down tuition costs, and offer more industry-credential programs.
The administration also plans to utilize a $10 million tax credit program – also approved by the state Legislature as part of the $15 minimum wage deal – to encourage employers to hire workers with disabilities, and boost the Department of Corrections’ reemployment programs.
As part of an effort to connect “educational and training programs to industry needs,” the administration laid out a five-year goal of growing the number of high school graduates with credentials in “high-demand industries” by 10 percent, and to have at least 25,000 adults enrolled in such training programs.
“Matching talent to available jobs through more targeted educational initiatives and providing the greatest opportunities to provide students training for those careers and access to those jobs are critical for employers to succeed and grow in New Jersey,” Michelle Siekerka, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said in a Wednesday statement.