TRENTON, N.J. – A bill that will help businesses struggling to find highly qualified workers was signed into law today.
Assembly members Brandon Umba, Beth Sawyer and Hal Wirths sponsored the legislation (S525/A280) that will fund pre-apprenticeship programs that match high school students with apprenticeships.
“Everyone is aware of the work shortages facing our nation and our extreme demand for skilled laborers. We have to do everything in our power as a state to connect young adults with the skills that are in demand and the training they need to achieve a successful, middle-class life, and beyond,” Umba (R-Burlington) said.
The legislation will increase funding for the Youth Transitions to Work Partnership, taking an additional $1 million from the state’s $22.5 million appropriation in 2022 from the Workforce Development Partnership Fund to create and enhance pre-apprenticeship programs. Those programs will target high school juniors and seniors to teach them life skills—communication, teamwork, math and literacy, among others—to prepare them for apprenticeships.
Under the new law, pre-apprenticeship programs must give preference to women, minorities, and men and women with disabilities. Those who complete pre-apprenticeship programs will get priority when being placed in apprenticeships.
“College is not for everyone. The military isn’t for everyone. There are good paying jobs that employers can’t fill because the myth continues that it’s either college or the military,” Wirths (R-Sussex) said. “High school upper classmen will now have the chance to see if an apprenticeship program is their best fit post-high-school career.”