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NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka at a news conference Tuesday with former Gov. Jim McGreevey (right) and Pastor Sheffield Bartley to announce a new partnership with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. NJBIA and NJRC are forming a workgroup with industry leaders to foster greater collaboration between employers and former prisoners seeking job training and employment.

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association, in partnership with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC), is forming a workgroup that is focusing on strengthening collaboration between employers and New Jersey’s reentry population.

The NJRC, a nonprofit agency chaired by former Gov. Jim McGreevey, is dedicated to removing all barriers to employment for people reentering society after incarceration. The new workgroup announced Tuesday will be led by NJBIA, NJRC and several industry leaders in order to drive action on partnerships for workforce development, training and the ultimate hiring of those with a history of court-involvement.

“NJBIA is proud to partner with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation to establish a workgroup to focus on strengthening collaboration between employers and New Jersey’s reentry population,” NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka said. “We know firsthand the value of skill building and workforce development. Together we can bridge skill gaps for in demand jobs for individuals who deserve a second chance.”

The collaboration will examine statewide best practices, current training opportunities, partnerships and challenges. Through this effort, recommendations will be made on setting hiring commitments, policy reform to remove barriers to employment and training, and to incentivize hiring among the reentry population.

“This working group will focus on employing persons returning from incarceration and addiction treatment, those seeking a second chance,” McGreevey said. “We are most grateful to Michele Siekerka and NJBIA for bringing together the business and reentry communities to tackle this worthy endeavor.”

Employment and career development are often the most challenging, yet critical, barriers facing individuals reentering society following their incarceration. National research indicates that up to 75% of individuals remain unemployed in the year following their release.

However, research also shows that employment helps reduce recidivism, and sets former inmates on a path to successful independence. Enlisting the business community in the effort to remove employment barriers is key.

The workgroup will hold its first meeting this summer.

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