Murphy says his jobs program will get NJ to ‘dominate this new decade’
EAST BRUNSWICK – Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is reorganizing the state’s job training efforts in an effort to better align education programs with the talent needs of employers and plans to offer grants to colleges that increase degree completion.
The Jobs NJ program was mentioned in Monday’s State of the State address, then rolled out by the governor and four members of his cabinet at a vo-tech high school in Middlesex County.
Murphy said that to strengthen the economy, New Jersey has to close gaps between the types of workers that employers need and the skills of the state’s residents.
“We can’t create a stronger and fairer New Jersey unless every worker knows that the future will work for them and not against them,” Murphy said.
The Jobs NJ program is new, though it includes some initiatives already in place but spread out around the government. Murphy said it addresses the first question he gets while recruiting businesses: Do you have the workforce we need?
“Our goal is to see New Jersey dominate this new decade,” he said.
“Talent is the most precious commodity in the 21st century economy,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive officer of the state Economic Development Authority, “and every investment we make in our people, in our talent, from the earliest-age kids in the system … up through higher education to adult education is a deeply important and high-return investment.”
Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis said the program also addresses one of the main things she hears from students.
“First, they’re mostly interested in affordability,” Ellis said. “But second, they want to make sure that when they go to college that they are able to get skills from the expensive, often, training that’s going to make them competitive in the labor market.”
Through the program, the Murphy administration is committing to help 250,000 more black, Hispanic and Native American students earn a post-secondary credential, as well as 25,000 more adults, by 2025.
The program includes other specific goals, too, such as raising postsecondary credential attainment in all New Jersey counties to at least 45%.
New Jersey’s current unemployment rate is 3.4%, but Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said more can always be done.
“To make sure this prosperity isn’t temporary, we can’t stop planning for the future just because our economy is strong now,” he said. “As part of Jobs NJ, we will reimagine our unemployment system as a re-employment system.”