New Jersey’s 19 community colleges were established throughout the 1960s to provide high quality, affordable higher education to people of all ages throughout the state. Community colleges offer a wide array of associate degree and certificate programs as well as workforce and occupational training programs that lead to great careers for hundreds of thousands of students each year.
In 2004, the 19 community colleges created the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to help bridge the skills gap throughout New Jersey by providing workforce training in a variety of fields. Since its inception, the Workforce Consortium has provided training solutions to more than 172,000 workers at more than 7,800 businesses in the state.
The Workforce Consortium and the community colleges deliver training programs that help employers advance the people already working for them, and train unemployed people and others to fill open positions. As a result, many people have experienced career advancement or a seamless re-entry into the workforce. The Workforce Consortium offers training in numerous fields including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and financial services to assist people in getting jobs and following career pathways.
One of the most successful Workforce Consortium programs is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) Basic Skills Training Program, a partnership between NJBIA and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD), serves the unique needs of small businesses because classes can be combined with numerous small businesses’ employees learning in the same classes. This program offers grant-funded training to current employees of New Jersey companies. Instructors will even come to a company’s location to teach the classes, or the classes can be taught at a local community college. Participants in these classes learn important lessons like proper written and verbal communication skills, customer service, management and business professional skills. All businesses in New Jersey can take part in this program, which is customizable to meet companies’ needs.
NJBIA also organized another initiative with the Workforce Consortium, a 12-week Advanced Manufacturing Training Program. This program helps participants acquire skills and accreditation in metal fabrication using CNC. Bergen Community College, Camden County College, Cumberland County College, Middlesex County College, County College of Morris and Raritan Valley Community College all offer the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program. The Workforce Consortium, through a grant awarded to Camden County College, also has the ability to deploy two trailers that have mobile classrooms to provide on-demand training throughout the state. Since its launch in 2012, more than 125 local manufacturers have hired 90 percent of the graduates from this program. Most of the people in this program were unemployed before they completed their training.
In 2014, the Workforce Consortium received a $10-million federal grant, matched by a $2-million LWD grant, to launch Ready to Work New Jersey. This program specifically targets people who have been unemployed for six months or more and trains them for jobs currently available. The program also allows employers seeking employees to hire people to be trained in their companies and receive partial salary reimbursements (On the Job Training). The program’s services are available at all 19 community colleges in New Jersey and to local employers. Since the program began, Ready to Work New Jersey has helped to employ over 870 people who were previously long-term unemployed. Our estimated economic benefit of this program to the state exceeds $40 million.
As part of Ready to Work New Jersey, the Workforce Consortium and Passaic County Community College (PCCC) in Paterson recently forged a new partnership with Wayne-based Haier America, Inc. – a global leader in manufacturing affordable kitchen, laundry, home comfort and HVAC systems. Haier employs more than 70,000 people around the world, and distributes products in more than 100 countries.
This new partnership is designed to train the next generation of electro-mechanical technicians who will be employed to service appliances and equipment in the manufacturing and appliance sector. Haier donated equipment to be used for training these future technicians and PCCC is providing new facilities and instruction – making this a joint venture between private and public entities. In addition to this unique employer-focused partnership, PCCC is working with Haier to deliver industry-recognized content and help place participants in jobs through their network of servicing firms and retailing centers.
The Workforce Consortium is one of New Jersey’s most important and unique assets to help businesses grow and assist more people in gaining employment throughout the state. Its numerous programs cater to the needs of many employers statewide. The Workforce Consortium and its member community colleges are helping businesses throughout New Jersey thrive and have provided pathways to prosperity for workers. To learn how the Workforce Consortium can help your business, visit www.njworkforce.org or www.rtwnj.org.