(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton and Gordon Johnson sponsored to increase the number of modern manufacturing jobs available in New Jersey and prepare residents of the state to fill those jobs was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
While traditional manufacturing has been on the decline in New Jersey since the 1960s, advanced manufacturing - or the industry primarily made up of chemical manufacturing, computer and electronic product manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and transportation equipment manufacturing - is a fast-growing sector of the economy. The advanced manufacturing industry contributed more than $17 billion to New Jersey's gross domestic product in 2009, or about 3.6 percent of all state output, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
"Too often today's conversation about manufacturing centers on obstacles instead of the many opportunities that new technology has made possible," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "New Jersey has a rich history of manufacturing various products, including food, pharmaceuticals, apparel, chemicals and glass. Focusing on advanced manufacturing will allow the state to continue that tradition in a 21st- century global economy."
The bill (A-3265) would establish the "New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Council" within the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission. The 11-member council would facilitate industry-led, private-public partnerships focused on engaging New Jersey institutions of higher education in manufacturing innovation.
"New Jersey already has a strong foundation in advanced manufacturing, and it's critical that the state capitalizes on the opportunity to make this industry more competitive," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Given the state's central geographic location, thriving ports and transportation centers and educated workforce, New Jersey can be a leader in advanced manufacturing with the right guidance and resources."
The council would: convene and enable industry-led, private-public partnerships focused on engaging New Jersey institutions of higher education in manufacturing innovation; design and implement an advanced manufacturing initiative to facilitate collaboration and information sharing across state departments and agencies; assist private companies to enhance technological transfer in New Jersey manufacturing industries to help companies overcome technical obstacles to scaling up production of new technologies; and submit an annual report to the governor, the legislature, and the Employment and Training Commission detailing its assessments and recommendations to enhance state policy related to the advanced manufacturing industry in New Jersey.
Members of the council, to be appointed by the governor, must have experience in the fields of labor, education or workforce development or training. Of the 11 members, two each shall be recommended by the Senate President and the Assembly speaker; one each shall be recommended by the Senate Minority Leader and the Assembly Minority Leader; and five shall be recommended by the governor. Members of the council would serve for five-year terms.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.