On behalf of our member companies that make NJBIA the most impactful association representing New Jersey businesses, thank you Senators Oroho and Greenstein for sponsoring this bill and thank you Chairman Sarlo for posting this bill and allowing us the opportunity to express our very strong support for S-659.
As we all see in windows and lit-up displays as we drive down any business district, as we have all heard on the nightly news, as you hear from the businesses in your legislative districts, as we hear from our NJBIA members and as the data purports, we are in the middle of a workforce crisis. Confounding that crisis for our critical manufacturers is that they were already facing a workforce shortage before the pandemic and that it has only gotten worse.
Importance of Manufacturers
Manufacturers are key to our state economy and job creation. The industry has well over 200,000 jobs scattered throughout the state, contributed $54 billion to the state gross domestic product in 2020, has much stronger wages and benefits than other industries and has a robust multiplier effect on the rest of the state economy. And in this industry that often does not require a college degree, finding a skilled workforce has often been the top complaint for years.
Importance of Bill
S-659 addresses that by establishes a multi-faceted and comprehensive approach to improve the technical/STEM workforce needed by New Jersey manufacturers and the entire state economy. To better position our workforce development pipeline to support the long-term needs of New Jersey manufacturers, S-659, the Manufacturing in Higher Education Act, is one of the most important things you can do to address this crisis. That is why it is a priority for NJBIA, and that is why it is a top priority for the new Manufacturing Counts Partnership between the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) and NJBIA. The bill aligns many of the critical players in the workforce development space in government, higher education and K-12 and focuses them on meeting the needs of manufacturers in a variety of ways. From aligning our education and training providers in a manufacturing career pathway to providing grants to those providers to create programs and awareness for manufacturing careers to focusing state agencies on the issue, this legislation will make the manufacturing industry and its workforce needs a priority for New Jersey.
NJBIA is also excited about the potential of the bill to support innovation, as innovation and workforce development are both keys to the success of manufacturing and the whole economy. This Legislature and Governor Murphy deserve credit for prioritizing innovation, and this bill furthers that.
The one suggested change NJBIA would respectfully request to S-659 is to better align it to the existing Manufacturing Career Pathways established by our New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development through funding provided by the State last year. Thank you to the Legislature for including that in the FY22 state budget, thank you to Governor Murphy for including it in is his proposed FY23 budget, and now please align S-659 to the existing program to continue its good work and avoid potential workforce development redundancies and silos.
NJBIA thanks you all for the consideration of our perspective and urges this committee to vote “yes” on this critically important workforce development bill that is both pro-manufacturing and pro-employee. Please let me know if you have any questions at email@example.com.