New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said Tuesday that the state achieved a record number of Registered Apprenticeship programs. He also recognized the recipients of $3 million in new grants to expand earn-while-you-learn opportunities beyond traditional occupations.
At the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark on March 9, Asaro-Angelo announced New Jersey reached its 1,000th Registered Apprenticeship program – there are now 1,002, a 64 percent increase since Gov. Phil Murphy took office in January 2018. Additionally, the state is seeing unprecedented growth in the diversity of the apprentices funded through its GAINS (Growing Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Sectors) grantees, with 63 percent identifying as Hispanic, African American or female.
The continued expansion of apprenticeship opportunities builds on record growth in 2018-19, when New Jersey was ranked No. 1 among states in percentage of DOL-Registered Apprenticeship growth.
The nonprofit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program has teamed with the NJDOL since the beginning of the apprenticeship efforts and received GAINS and PACE Grants from them, NJMEP President John Kennedy told NJBIZ.
NJMEP has also worked with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Donna Scalia to get its apprenticeships properly registered. USDOL approved apprenticeship programs for NJMEP are: industrial manufacturing production technician, computer numerical control technician, logistics technician, technical sales, food safety technician, cyber technician, and bio technician.
Asaro-Angelo asked Kennedy to chair a committee on apprenticeships.
“The number one need in the manufacturing industry is a pipeline of new, educated, trained employees, and this is what a solid apprenticeship is: earn while you learn process,” Kennedy said. “Apprentices make money, get benefits, because they are employees.”
They also earn apprenticeship credentials: national credentials or college credits as NJMEP is doing with Essex County College.
State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District, a longtime apprenticeship advocate, joined Asaro-Angelo in Newark. She has sponsored bills to make apprenticeships more accessible for New Jersey residents, especially in high-growth industries. She has also promoted diversity in the programs, and advocated for defraying costs like transportation and child care that could deter would-be apprentices.
“Apprenticeships offer a pathway to lifelong careers, often in high-wage industries that are vital to our state’s economy,” said Ruiz, the senate president pro tempore. “The expanded accessibility to apprenticeships will bolster our workforce and expand opportunities for New Jersey residents, especially for the marginalized groups who have historically been denied access to these industries. We are making real change in the lives of the people that need it the most.”
NJDOL recently awarded $3 million in GAINS grants to 12 recipients with proposals to support apprenticeship innovation and growth. One of the recipients is Apprenti, the nation’s first registered tech apprenticeship program and a product of the Washington Technology Industry Association Workforce Institute. Apprenti will receive $215,400 to train and place future tech workers at Princeton University and other employers in New Jersey.
Apprenticeships are a key component of Murphy’s Jobs NJ initiative. Additional funding for apprenticeships is part of the more than $20 million for implementing the Jobs NJ initiative that Murphy recently announced in his fiscal year 2021 budget.