Is New Jersey’s workforce job-ready?

The tax dollars New Jersey’s residents send to Trenton are being used to train and educate state employees. Several lawmakers felt the state should produce an annual report on the job readiness of its workforce.

“The individuals you (the state) produce, the way you educate them, they should be job ready and I think we need a report on that,” said State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape may Court House). “We need to know that the money we’re spending, the tax dollars that we’re spending is being used in the wisest and best way possible and if we’re not doing it in the best way possible we should revamp, rethink and actually tweak it a little bit.”

Legislation (S-1978) sponsored by Van Drew would require the state Employment and Training Commission to prepare an annual report on the state’s workforce. The goal is to ensure a comprehensive report is available for the Department of Labor to help give a clearer picture of New Jersey’s workforce. The report would be shared with public entities, private enterprise and educational institutions.

“If we’re training people in methods and ways that do not help them with those (job) requirements, that doesn’t help us. That’s useless,” Van Drew explained.

The bill would require the report to be presented at least annually. It would evaluate and project the state’s workforce needs. The measure also directs the commission to use the resources and data of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in preparing the report.

The Assembly version of the bill (A-3019) is identical and was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel).

“Staying on track with state workforce training and education programs is a critical component to getting more New Jerseyans back to work,” Singleton said in an emailed statement. “With a better idea of the skills which compose our workforce, we can attract more companies, more jobs suitable to the state’s workforce needs.”

The bill was unanimously approved by the full Assembly in March and recently passed the Senate Labor Committee.

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