On Thursday, the Senate Labor Committee will consider Senate Bill 2556, which would create the Joint Apprenticeship Incentive Grant Program, aimed specifically at incentivizing the state’s manufacturing and advanced technology sectors to create more apprenticeships.
Under the bill sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, D-7th District, the fund would be based out of the Office of Customized Training and reimburse companies for between 50 percent and 75 percent of the wages they pay to apprentices for up to five years of training.
The amount of funding an employer receives is based on the number of apprentices and their rate of pay, plans to promote participation from women and minorities and whether the statewide demand for trained workers of a certain field outpaces their supply.
Alea Couch, a policy coordinator for Singleton, said the senator is “working to stimulate the whole unionized apprenticeship program to meet the needs that we’re currently not meeting, to give folks that alternative” to a four-year college degree.
Last week, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice unveiled a series of recommendations on how the state can bolster its apprenticeship programs and spur recruitment of women and people of color.
The report suggested a statewide plan to diversify the demographic makeup of apprentices, tax credits for the establishment of new apprenticeship programs, apprentice wage reimbursement for businesses and state-subsidized tuition waivers for state residents.
The report also suggested the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Talent Networks fund three new adult apprenticeship programs in various parts of the state, with a focus on high-growth industries such as pharmaceuticals, life sciences, transportation, finance, advanced manufacturing, health care and energy.
“Apprenticeships are a core part of our strategy to make New Jersey stronger and fairer,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
The expansion of New Jersey’s apprenticeships, he added, should be “designed to create more opportunities for women, people of color and other people with barriers to employment to enter and thrive in apprenticeship programs that pay a living wage and set them on a career path in our high-growth industries."