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 The New Jersey Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program, now celebrating its 15-year anniversary, has provided free training at NJ Community Colleges to more than 200,000 workers employed by more than 12,000 employers since the program’s inception in 2007.

The New Jersey Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program is a partnership of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The partners, representing business, higher education, and state government, work ogether to ensure New Jersey businesses have a well-trained and highly skilled workforce to ensure economic growth and prosperity. Representatives from these organizations, as well as leaders of businesses that have successful used the program, were at NJBIA headquarters in Trenton on Thursday to discuss the program and encourage other businesses to utilize it.

“New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges have provided critical education and training – from English as a Second Language to computer skills – to tens of thousands of employees, improving the workforce and bottom line for businesses,” said Catherine Starghill, executive director, New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, and vice president, Strategy and Partnerships, New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC).

“Our customized training, aligned to the needs of employers, has helped families improve their circumstances by providing skills that are in-demand for career mobility,” Starghill said. “The past 15 years of our Basic Skills Training Program have worked to strengthen the state’s economic growth and prosperity for employers and employees.”

The NJ Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program offers the following technology training: Windows, MS Office 365, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Courses in Databases, PC Data Storage, and Cloud Computing are also available. Enhanced Business Skills Training is available for Verbal, Written, and Customer Service.

Communications courses are available in Measurements/Mathematics, Professionalism, Problem Solving/Critical Thinking, Team Building, Time Management, and Team Leadership.

Language Training is also available for English as a Second Language (three levels), Spanish for Managers, and Spanish in the Workplace (two levels). The training and education can be held on Community College campuses, online, and/or at the business location.

“The New Jersey Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Program is by far the most successful workforce development program in the state, allowing businesses to send employees to community colleges to learn the skills they need to do their jobs and advance in their careers,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka.

“Under this successful partnership, the NJCCC manages the program, NJBIA does outreach to companies whose employees can be helped by training, and the NJDOL provides funding and fiscal oversight.”

Employer participants spoke highly of the state Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Program.

“For a healthcare organization to run, its employees must have up-to-date knowledge on new equipment, technologies, practices, and regulations in various areas,” said Dawn Gelsi-Collins, Network Director of Culture and Engagement, Inspira Health.

“The NJ Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program allows us to offer a wide variety of courses to develop, upskill, and retain our staff – whether they are looking for ways to better serve their customers, or hoping to level up their careers,” she said.

“As a people-centric organization, we pride ourselves on giving opportunities from the ground up,” said Cyd Morales, People Ops Manager, Kinetic Brands. “We recognize that success is more than just making the numbers; it’s about investing in your people and giving them tools they need to succeed… that’s why the NJ Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program works.”

“We have proudly utilized the NJ Workplace Literacy and Basic Skill Training Program through Middlesex County College to develop the skills and capabilities of our employees, resulting in better organizational effectiveness,” said Prithvi Thularam, Human Resources Manager, MSI Surfaces in Edison. “The MS Word and MS Excel programs have greatly helped enhance the computer skills of our employees and improved overall productivity.

“Further, their ESL programs have helped non-English speaking workers to better their English communication skills, which helps them to better understand their work instructions and carry out their job in a safe and productive manner. As these programs are conducted within our premises and/or online, we have had very minimal to no work disruption.”

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Commitee, said county colleges are “invaluable,” providing an important pathway for young people and older adults seeking to learn skills and obtain certifications needed for good-paying jobs.

“The NJBIA has embraced the need for workforce development as a critical component of its mission, and partners with our colleges to accomplish this laudable goal,” Jasey said. “The work is necessary and changing lives every day.

“NJBIA is to be commended for this long-stnding commitment to workforce development and embracing county colleges throughout the state,” Jasey said.