The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) announced a pilot program to expand a Manufacturing Resource Guide. The initiative builds upon NJMEP’s current Educational Resource Directory and will provide additional resources and information for manufacturing companies’ growth.
“Manufacturing is a high-wage, high-value industry that has the potential to drive long-term, sustainable growth in communities around New Jersey. Unfortunately, growth in this industry has slowed in recent years because companies, parents, and students do not know about programs that are available to help them overcome challenges,” said John W. Kennedy, president of NJMEP. “Our collaboration with the NJEDA will help to broaden our Educational Resource Directory into a full Manufacturing Resource Guide and make it easier to access and search so that companies, parents, and students can take advantage of the full range of resources available in New Jersey to help them grow.”
New Jersey’s manufacturing industry produces more than $31 billion in economic output every year and employs more than 160,000 New Jersey workers. The industry is one of eight focus sectors identified in Gov. Phil Murphy’s economic plan. However, it has faced increasing barriers to growth as an aging workforce and a shortage of young workers shrinks the number of qualified employees available to manufacturing companies and a growing skills gap slows productivity in the modern, technologically-demanding field.
Solutions to many of these problems are available. Not only do many New Jersey community colleges and vocational-technical schools offer upskilling opportunities for manufacturing workers, but the NJMEP also offers training courses and apprenticeship programs for employees, and government agencies, such as the Department of Labor, NJEDA, and the Business Action Center, offer workforce development and financing services.
Despite targeting the specific challenges manufacturing companies face, many of these resources are underutilized because the businesses they are intended to help do not know the programs exist or how to take advantage of them. To address this challenge, the NJMEP developed the Educational Resource Directory, a centralized source of information on programs for manufacturing companies that includes information about NJMEP programs, contacts for community college and vocational-technical schools, and points of contact for State initiatives to boost the industry.
The Memorandum of Understanding authorizes a pilot program between the NJEDA and NJMEP to add further informational depth to the Educational Resource Directory and make the document easier to access. According to the agreement, the organizations will also work together to disseminate the expanded Resource Guide through a coordinated social media campaign. During the pilot period, the NJEDA and NJMEP will solicit stakeholder feedback through a roundtable discussion and survey of users who downloaded the guide.
“Building a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy includes providing smart, targeted support for industries like advanced manufacturing,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “New Jersey already has dozens of programs and initiatives aimed at helping businesses in this industry succeed, but programs cannot be effective if businesses do not know how to access them. The NJEDA’s collaboration with NJMEP will go a long way toward ensuring New Jersey’s business leaders understand the full range of resources available to them as they continue to grow and create new jobs for New Jerseyans.”
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