Working with business leaders from Germany, Morris County is helping launch a high-tech apprenticeship program to provide skilled employees for New Jersey businesses.
Explaining the county’s role is a tale that starts a decade ago, when Phil Murphy began an appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
Murphy, now Gov. Murphy, was impressed by the Germans’ dual career paths: College or apprenticeships.
Both paths provide good-paying, family-supporting jobs. Currently, many businesses in northern Jersey are having difficulty finding and hiring talent– particularly, applicants with “middle skill” abilities required by aerospace/defense, pharmaceutical and telecom manufacturing.
According to John Kennedy of the New Jersey Manufacturers Extension Program, which develops apprenticeship programs, there are 33,000 manufacturing job openings in the state.
“No one organization can provide all the training needed,” he said.
On Thursday, Gov. Murphy gave the keynote address at the launch of a three-year apprenticeship program to be run by the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC).
The New York office of the GACC received a $39,000 grant to run the program, starting in Morris County.
Here’s where the county Chamber of Commerce comes in.
New Jersey can’t give state Labor Department money to an organization based in Manhattan. In an arrangement blessed by the state, the grant recipient is, technically, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, by virtue of its Economic Development Corporation’s workforce initiatives.
Apprentices will take classes at the County College of Morris, in Randolph.
At the end of the program, they will have three years of paid work experience, an Associate Degree (equivalent to two years at any New Jersey state university) and certifications that enable them to change jobs — after the apprentices fulfill the remainder of their five-year contract.
Morris County was thanked by the head of the German American Chamber of Commerce, by its New York Office and by Murphy.
Murphy announced two additional programs with funding sources to fill the apprenticeship pipeline. The goal is to reach more than 500 young people over the next several years.
The first program is from the Dept of Labor – PACE – is a pre-apprenticeship program for under-represented communities or those with economic barriers. In addition to help navigating their education towards an apprenticeship, grant recipients will have access to support services including childcare and transportation.
And the state Dept of Education will provide $100,000 for ExPAND (Expanding Pre-Apprenticeship in New Direction), to bring pre-apprenticeship programs to high school students.
For more information about the three-year apprenticeship program – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Kujan (dba Tech Stevedore LLC) consults for a biotech company in Union County. Formerly, she worked for the Morris County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), part of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.