The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced a $4 million, second round of available funding through the Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) grant program March 3.
The initiative aims to develop new and existing apprenticeship programs and to create Registered Apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries.
The first round of $3.5 million in funding for the current fiscal year was released in September with awards going to eight applicants to onboard more than 700 apprentices in occupations such as nursing, plumbing, electrical maintenance, cybersecurity, community health, home health aide, pharmacy support, operating engineer, associate preschool teacher, hair stylist, massage therapist, truck driver, and others.
GAINS promotes equality of opportunity, upward mobility and economic fairness, while prioritizing underrepresented populations.
More than two-thirds of GAINS grantees have been females or minorities—twice the average among all apprenticeship programs in the state. The effort is part of the governor’s New Jersey Apprenticeship Network, which seeks to make the Garden State a leader for all apprenticeship programs nationwide and to provide more options for residents to build their careers.
“The earn-while-you-learn model plays a critical role in developing trained and skilled workers where they’re needed most, and removes the tough choice between learning new skills and earning a wage,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo in a statement. “Apprenticeship programs provide workers with the stability of a fair wage during training and throughout their careers.”
More than half of GAINS apprentices are in the health care sector and have helped support the pandemic response.
“The statewide shortage of nurses forces BAYADA to complement traditional hiring practices with innovative recruitment and preparation pathways that leverage the apprenticeship model to build new talent,” said Adelina Garcia, director of workforce development for grantee BAYADA Home Health Care. “The New Jersey GAINS grant has enabled BAYADA to scale its apprenticeship program across the state and launch participants into high-quality, well-paying jobs that serve our communities.”
Grantee proposals must provide apprentices a starting wage of no less than $16 per hour, unless a lower rate is justified. The funding through GAINS can be used to reimburse up to 50% of new apprentices’ wages for a maximum of $12,000 per apprentice over 52 work weeks.
Virtual technical assistance workshops for the program will be held March 16 and 24 at 1 p.m. for both dates.
A Letter of Intent is due by noon on April 6, and the application is due by noon April 14. More details and the full Notice of Grant Opportunity can be found here.d