TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Troy Singleton, which would expand apprenticeship programs, cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“Establishing more accessible pathways to apprenticeships would expand the opportunities available for underrepresented populations in high growth industries,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Apprenticeships offer invaluable experience which can lead to a lifelong career path in industries essential to our state economy. This legislation will open the door to individuals who historically would not have had the experience or means to access these industries.”
The first bill, S-3061, sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Senator Greenstein, would provide tax credits for businesses that participate in the Department of Labor (DOL) registered apprenticeship programs. It would also establish a grant program for tax-exempt organizations participating in the DOL registered apprenticeship programs.
“Offering tax incentives to businesses who offer apprenticeship programs that account for, as well as attempt to dismantle the barriers of entry facing certain communities is an investment in the future of our state,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Increased opportunities for our residents to obtain the guidance, skills and experience that come with apprenticeships benefit not only the individual apprentice, but also businesses and the state.”
A second bill, S-3063, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would provide a tuition fee waiver for apprenticeship courses. Under this bill, higher education facilities would be required to waive tuition fees of apprenticeship courses for certain candidates.
“We need to instill in the minds of our students that four-year colleges are not the only avenues that lead to successful careers,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Establishing youth apprenticeship programs in our schools would provide students with valuable career skills while they are still enrolled in a traditional curriculum. Obtaining the skills for a lifelong career and receiving a traditional education should not be mutually exclusive of each other.”
The final bill, sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Senator Singleton, would establish a youth apprenticeship pilot program in Department of Education. The three-year pilot program would provide high school and college students an opportunity to develop work skills while continuing their traditional education.
These bills are the first piece of a comprehensive bill package to address the structural impediments that currently prevent women and people of color from participating in apprenticeships.
The bills were released from committee by votes of 12-0, and next head to the Senate floor for further consideration.