New Jersey Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14th District, addressed over 60 attendees on Oct. 25 at a Manufacturing Caucus Hearing at Rowan College at Burlington County and said the purpose of the caucus is to support employers, reduce burdensome over-regulation, reduce costs of doing business, and support apprenticeships through legislation.
“We are looking at new legislation to support employers who are seeking to promote credentialing and workforce development,” Greenstein said. “There is legislation pending to create a permanent source of funding to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program.”
The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program is a not-for-profit organization that supports manufacturing businesses through education, training and apprenticeships.
A proposed bill would create the New Jersey Entrepreneurship Program in the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
“Advanced manufacturing has become a major focus of our schools,” Jackie Burke, assistant executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, said. “One challenge is having businesses connect with our schools.”
New Jersey Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th District, who is also part of the manufacturing caucus, said he looks forward to government efficiency and regulatory review.
“We have a great education system, a terrific workforce, and our infrastructure when properly maintained is one of our important assets,” Oroho said. “The business cycle is regularly changing. We are looking at ideas of incentives. I believe we need sunset provisions.”
According to Oroho, New Jersey employs almost 400,000 people in manufacturing with the average salary of a New Jersey resident who works in the manufacturing industry being $90,300 annually.
Peter Okun, director of marketing and public relations at NJMEP, said manufacturers need workforce development and retaining skilled talent. He said that NJMEP’s Pro-Action Network is an integral source of solving problems through pre-apprenticeship programs, regular apprenticeship programs, MSSC training, and workforce development training.
Jay Budd is the global director of compliance at Edmund Optics, a company that manufactures optical components in Barrington. He said his employer is being impacted by tariffs on imported materials from China, and because they can’t retain employees.
“People cannot afford to live in New Jersey,” Budd said, citing personal property taxes. “When I started working at Edmund Optics, I lived in Philadelphia. I moved to New Jersey. Today 25 percent of our employees live in Philadelphia. It has gotten to the point that we have a shuttle pick them up from the train station and bring them to our company.”