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Workforce Development

Apprentices ‘Learn and Earn’ Through Federal Grant

Now in the final year of a four-year grant term, Bergen Community College has served more than 2,200 New Jersey residents and helped place 1,300 into apprenticeships and employment through a $12 million U.S. Department of Labor healthcare education grant. Bergen serves as the lead agency in a consortium of 90 education and healthcare industry partners that provides education and placement for enrollees – some at no-cost. The grant specifically looks to assist residents in the state’s underserved populations including displaced, unemployed, underemployed and veteran workers.

“The apprenticeship model of ‘learning while earning’ represents a win across the board,” Bergen President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., said. “With employment shortages in key healthcare fields and New Jersey residents seeking good-paying, family-sustaining careers, apprenticeships fill gaps throughout the state. I am proud of Bergen’s work as the lead agency and grateful for the partners who have collaborated to make these achievements possible.”

The New Jersey Healthworks Scaling Apprenticeship Program offers enrollees the opportunity to prepare for careers in one of 15 jobs such as certified nursing assistant, massage therapist and pharmacy technician. Some apprentices can earn an industry credential and enter the workforce in as few as five months. While enrolled, apprenticeships have access to success coaches, employer resources and peer support programs.

Program partners include 14 community colleges and healthcare leaders such as Hackensack Meridian Health, CareOne, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center and Jewish Home Family. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development provided $500,000 toward the program’s operation as well.

With the grant now up for renewal by the federal government, Project Director Andrea Nemeth said at a recent convening of grant partners that she hopes the collaboration can continue.

“More than 400 entered the workforce with new skills and an ability to provide for their families as part of the program,” she said. “Those extraordinary results remain a testament to our partners and the importance of this program, which has become an important pipeline for the state’s healthcare industry.”

Locally, with six hospitals and more than 70,000 jobs in Bergen County, healthcare stands as the area’s top workforce cluster. Accordingly, College officials have long prioritized the education of health professionals. Currently, more than 1,400 students enroll in health professions degree, certificate and licensure programs at Bergen.

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