Umba bill would expand apprenticeship opportunities for NJ youth

Umba bill would expand apprenticeship opportunities for NJ youth

TRENTON, N.J. – Businesses struggling to find highly qualified workers may benefit from pre-apprenticeship programs, says Assemblyman Brandon Umba.

Umba’s bill (S525/A280) that would allocate funds for those programs cleared the Assembly Labor Committee Thursday. It now goes to the speaker for further consideration.

“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 would increase funding for the Youth Transitions to Work Partnership, taking an additional $1 million from the state’s annual appropriation 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 skills, among others—to prepare them for apprenticeships.

“We can’t keep running with the fairy tale that college is the end-all-be-all. There are multiple ways to find a good-paying career, and connecting students directly with employers and apprenticeships is a phenomenal pipeline to expand,” Umba added. “The soft skills taught in these programs are often severely lacking in new workers, so I believe this does just as much to help the business community as it does to help the young adults getting involved.”

Umba’s bill requires that pre-apprenticeship programs give preference to women, minorities, and men and women with disabilities. Those who complete pre-apprenticeship programs would get priority when being placed in apprenticeships.

The Senate passed its bill back in March.