TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Labor Committee cleared a bill on Monday to boost workforce development and make apprenticeship programs more accessible for students earning less than the state’s median income.
“Apprenticeship programs build a strong workforce and allow students to earn as they learn,” Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis (R-Union), a prime sponsor of the bill said. “To encourage students to enter the industries that offer these hands-on experiences, we must look at the tuition costs of the classroom portion. Removing that as a barrier will help both business and residents.”
Under the assemblywoman’s bill (A2494), colleges and schools offering the classroom component of a registered apprenticeship would waive the tuition for students who earn less than the median state income (currently $89,296) and who don’t have those costs covered by an employer or financial aid. Students would also have to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
“This bill puts more students on a path to financial freedom and gainful employment while also allowing employers to develop a pipeline of qualified workers,” Matsikoudis added. “There are rewarding apprenticeship opportunities in construction, cybersecurity, financial services, health care, logistics and so much more. Connecting students to those career paths will help support New Jersey’s economic recovery.”
The United States Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship reported 8,583 active apprentices enrolled across 936 different apprenticeship programs in New Jersey in 2020.
The Senate Labor Committee passed the bill (S532) in March.