Manufacturing, health care and financial services will be the industries of focus for a Department of Labor and Workforce Development initiative to create a series of talent networks to improve training and employment in critical sectors.
The six sectors, and the institutions that will lead them: The New Jersey Institute of Technology will lead the advanced manufacturing network; the Newark Alliance, financial services; Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations, Health Care; the New Jersey Technology Council, technology and entrepreneurship. Pilot programs in the transportation, logistics and distribution sector and in life sciences will be continued.
BioNJ, which has run a work force development program for the past three years, will continue to lead the life sciences network. Association President Debbie Hart said the expansion of the pilot programs is a strategic approach to economic development that fits into Gov. Chris Christie’s plan.
“When you look at the total price tag, the fact that they’re leveraging federal dollars, it’s a pretty economical investment in the future of New Jersey,” Hart said.
Hart said one of the greatest challenges facing the programs is creating enough jobs to employ talented people laid off in other sectors. She also said selective hiring is putting more pressure on candidates to meet all requirements employers are seeking.
“When we talk to companies around the world who are interested in coming to New Jersey, there are number of reasons why they want to come here,” Hart said. “We have all of the pieces in place here that will help a biotechnology grow, and the greatest asset is our talent. The best thing this effort will result in is keeping that talent here.”
Hart said one of the reasons the life sciences program has been successful in connecting potential employees with recruiters and employers is a multi-pronged approach at events: job-seeking advice panels, trade fairs and training opportunities.
“This gives them an opportunity to meet the employers directly,” Hart said. “It gives the employers a free opportunity to meet the employees, and it brings them together in a very focused way.”