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NJBIA on Thursday testified in strong support of legislation advanced by an Assembly committee that would create a more comprehensive and multifaceted plan to improve the quality of New Jersey’s manufacturing workforce.

Bill A-2014/S-659 (Conaway, D-7; Wirths, R-24; Umba, D-8; Oroho, R-24; Greenstein, D-14), also known as the “Manufacturing in Higher Education Act,” is a top priority for the Manufacturing Counts partnership announced last year between NJBIA and the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP).

In testimony submitted to the Assembly Science Innovation and Technology Committee, NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Christopher Emigholz said the legislation is both “pro-manufacturing and pro-employee” and would address workforce challenges the manufacturing sector has faced, even prior to the pandemic.

“Exacerbating that crisis further is the fact the manufacturing is not possible to do remotely in this atmosphere where working from home is growing ever more popular,” Emigholz said.

The bill addresses manufacturing workforce deficiencies by aligning 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 by:

  • Aligning government, education and training providers to manufacturing pathways offered through the New Jersey Community College Consortium’s new Pathways to Career Opportunities
  • Establishing a $10 million grant program to support manufacturing workforce development programs for education and training providers and promoting manufacturing career awareness
  • Creating a manufacturing liaison in the New Jersey Business Action Center Directing state government to be more responsive to the needs of the manufacturing industry
  • Establishing a Manufacturing Council in the State Employment Training Commission

“Manufacturers are key to our state economy and job creation,” Emigholz said. “The industry has about 250,000 jobs scattered throughout the state, contributing over $56 billion to the state gross domestic product in 2021.

“Manufacturing also 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.”

The committee voted to release the bill.