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Retooling the system.

A change in the organization of state government is making New Jersey's successful job-training programs available to more individuals and businesses than ever before. Gov. James E. McGreevey recently announced that Trenton will merge all state-run job-training programs--27 of them now scattered across several agencies--under the state Department of Labor, which will be renamed the "Department of Labor and Workforce Development."

New Jersey has a broad array of state programs to help workers at all stages of employment--from the high-school graduate looking for a better-paying job, to the working mother taking career-building classes online, to the doctoral student sharpening his or her skills to stay competitive in the new economy.

These programs also help businesses stay competitive. In addition to providing a higher-skilled work force, they allow companies to tailor training grants to businesses' specific needs. Customized training grants help companies train their employees in everything from lean manufacturing to management to English proficiency. And much of this training is funded by state grants and provided by New Jersey's community colleges.

In his State of the State address, the governor said that training New Jersey's work force is one of the most important investments we can make for our economy. He acknowledged that the state's community colleges are the backbone of this effort.

Each year, New Jersey's 19 community colleges serve more than 350,000 students. Of these, 100,000 are enrolled in non-credit professional development and training programs to upgrade their skills or procure better jobs. Approximately 50,000 are enrolled in state Customized Training Grant programs, which are funded by the Department of Labor.

At Camden County College, our division of customized training is conducting Workforce Development Partnership Program (WDPP) projects for 36 regional businesses, serving a total of 13,977 employees. These projects have been funded by the state for a total of $6.92 million, with the largest of them being carried out for Comcast New Jersey, with $2.5 million in funding.

Many key Camden training programs have been established for businesses in the field of health care and health-related products, a field where the South Jersey-Philadelphia region is projected to place unprecedented demand during at least the next five years. These clients include Baxter Pharmaceutical Solutions, CIGNA Health Care, Cooper/Lourdes Health Initiative, Cooper Health System and PCI Services/Cardinal Health.

Camden also has created WDPP training for a number of important clients in other fields, including A.C. Moore, J&J Snack Foods, Magnetic Metals, Maksin Group, Nest and Triman Industries.

As Camden County College's success indicates, the system is working to provide the Garden State with a well-trained work force. In the last two years, the McGreevey administration has invested $39 million to train nearly 70,000 workers statewide. Nevertheless, this system can be improved.

The state's 27 training programs now have their own individual eligibility requirements, application procedures and fiscal calendars. That can make the process very confusing for the businesses we are striving to help.

McGreevey's plan to consolidate these programs will help the individuals and business owners who seek training while also helping Camden and our fellow two-year institutions carry out the training more efficiently.

The new Department of Labor and Workforce Development will devise a single strategy for work-force training in New Jersey. Community colleges will remain central to that strategy. We will continue to provide interview coaching, resume-writing workshops and training to help workers bolster their careers.

Among the governor's concrete job goals for the next five years are helping 300,000 new businesses get started in the state; relocating or expanding 500 businesses into New Jersey; and, ultimately, creating 200,000 new jobs here. Also on his agenda are training 150,000 workers and attracting $6 billion in new public-private investment.

Retooling the state's work-force development system is an important step toward these goals. Camden County College and our fellow New Jersey community colleges look forward to helping achieve them.




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Title Annotation:point of view
Author:Vecchia, Phyllis Della
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:Jul 5, 2004
Previous Article:Developing--not outsourcing--America's work force.
Next Article:Editor's desk.

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