The manufacturing industry, which is currently in the midst of a skills-gap crisis, will now receive preference when applying for workforce development grants to train employees under a bill (A4023/S446) sponsored by Assemblyman Hal Wirths and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy this week.
“This law will help support the more than 250,000 people currently employed in New Jersey’s manufacturing industry by providing them with the skills they need advance in their careers,” said Wirths. “Manufacturers will have a greater ability to invest in their employees, retain their talent, create jobs and grow the economy.”
Under current law, employers are given preference for workforce grants if they contract with the military to provide equipment, supplies, or services, if they are in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or advanced manufacturing fields, or if they intend to train veterans. Wirths’ bill will add manufacturers to the list.
“Employers are in need of qualified workers to fill manufacturing jobs that pay a good living. These grants help meet workforce demands and provide gainful employment,” said Wirths.
The average annual salaries of those employed in the manufacturing sector range from $60,000 to more than $90,000. New Jersey’s manufacturing sector is broad, including companies like BASF, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and Unilever, and food manufacturers like Campbell Soup, Goya Foods, Mars, and Pinnacle Foods. In the advanced manufacturing industry, which uses technology to improve products and processes, employment is focused on producing chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers and electronics, fabricated metal and machinery.
The Labor Department administers the Workforce Development Partnership Program, which provides training grants to employers throughout the state to enhance the skills of employees and the competitiveness of the employer. The legislation passed both houses unanimously. Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblyman Parker Space were also cosponsors of the legislation.