‘Ready to Work New Jersey’ Connects the Long-Term Unemployed with Companies Who Need their Skills
They are called the “exhaustees.”
They are men and women of every ilk, some with exceptional skills and talents. They have been desperately seeking work for a long time. They have exhausted their unemployment benefits, and they are—quite literally—exhausted and demoralized from their endless search for a good job.
They are the long-term unemployed, out of work for six months or more. They are your friends, relatives or neighbors, many of them veterans or casualties of the Great Recession. They number more than 3 million in the US and 160,000 in New Jersey.
Fortunately, in New Jersey, there is new hope for this weary crowd.
Thanks to a $10 million federal grant awarded to New Jersey’s consortium of 19 community colleges, New Jersey is one of only 16 states implementing Ready to Work programs designed specifically to connect the most qualified of these job seekers with employers who need their skills. The NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development is contributing another $2 million to the effort.
“Over the next four years, in New Jersey alone, we intend to assist up to 1,000 of these individuals in preparing for and finding good jobs. We will provide them with needed training, certifications, networking and support services of every kind,” said Sivaraman Anbarasan, CEO of the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development, which was awarded the grant and will coordinate the program throughout the state.
The Ready to Work New Jersey program will be as much a boon to participating employers as it will be to those who find work through it. Even before the grant was awarded, 21 companies made a commitment to hire through this program. A large part of the grant has been reserved for salary reimbursements to the employers hiring the grant candidates. Industry associations including NJBIA, NJTC and BioNJ, along with New Jersey’s talent networks, will promote the program to employers statewide.
“State labor data shows that many employers are having difficulty finding the right people with the right skills, training and experience to fill their jobs at all levels,” Anbarasan said. “Our program connects those employers with job seekers who have the right experience and work ethic, and it offers subsidized, on-the-job training to close the skills gap.”
The US Department of Labor selected the New Jersey Community College Consortium to receive the grant based largely on the strength of its success in designing and implementing two earlier employment training programs, the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program and the NJ Manufacturing Training Initiative. Backed by state and federal grants, these and similar programs over the past ten years have served more than 100,000 incumbent and unemployed workers at over 5,400 employers throughout the state.
This story was originally published in the March 2015 issue of New Jersey Business, the magazine of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. The author is Christopher Biddle, President of Biddle Communications & Public Relations.