Assembly passes Wirths bill giving manufacturers preference when applying for workforce development grants

Assembly passes Wirths bill giving manufacturers preference when applying for workforce development grants

Harold J. Wirths

TRENTON, N.J. – Employers in the manufacturing industry, which is currently in the midst of a skills-gap crisis, could receive some help through a bill (A4023/S446) sponsored by Assemblyman Hal Wirths that passed the Assembly Monday. The bill gives manufacturers preference when applying for grants to train their employees. 

“Manufacturers currently employee more than 250,000 people in New Jersey. It’s important to our economy that we support this industry and the workers who call this state home,” said Wirths. “It’s smart for manufacturers to invest in their employees and retain their talent and this bill will help them do just that.”

Under current law, employers are given preference for workforce grants if they contract with the military to provide equipment, supplies, or services, if they are in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or advanced manufacturing fields, or if they intend to train veterans. Wirths’ bill will add manufacturers to the list.

“These are well-paying jobs and employers are in need of qualified workers to fill them. These grants are a win-win,” said Wirths.

The average annual salaries of those employed in the manufacturing sector range from $60,000 to more than $90,000.

New Jersey’s manufacturing sector is broad, including companies like BASF, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and Unilever, and food manufacturers like Campbell Soup, Goya Foods, Mars, and Pinnacle Foods. In the advanced manufacturing industry, which uses technology to improve products and processes, employment is focused on producing chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers and electronics, fabricated metal and machinery.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Workforce Development Partnership Program, which provides training grants to employers throughout the state to enhance the skills of employees and the competitiveness of the employer.

Wirths’ legislation now heads to the governor’s desk. It passed the Senate 37-0 in June 2018.