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New Jersey can better align its skilled workforce development goals by codifying the successful Talent Network Program, which works directly with employers in targeted growth industries to keep pace with a rapidly changing, knowledge-driven global economy, NJBIA said Monday.

NJBIA endorsed the committee substitute legislation, S-393/S-973, that would make the state’s successful Talent Network Program permanent so it can continue supporting efforts to build a more competitive skilled workforce. The bill, sponsored by state Senators Fred Madden, D-4, and Troy Singleton, D-7, was released by the Senate Labor Committee on Monday.

“Business needs skilled workers who have successfully completed post-secondary training and obtained the industry-valued credentials needed for the new technologies that are powering today’s economy,” said NJBIA Vice President Michael Wallace.

“New Jersey’s Talent Networks, led by university and industry experts, help do this by developing the post-secondary education and workforce training programs that job-seekers need for rewarding careers,” Wallace said.

This bill codifies the Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s (LWD) system of talent networks that align education and workforce training programs with the changing needs of employers. The talent networks now include: Advanced Manufacturing; Construction/Utilities; Financial Services; the Food Industry; Healthcare; Life Sciences; Technology; Retail, Hospitality & Tourism; and Transportation, Logistics & Distribution.

Under the legislation, LWD would be required to provide a minimum of $2 million in federal and state grants to the consortia of nonprofit organizations, industry associations and post-secondary education institutions that have expertise in those key industries and the ability to identify skill gaps and workforce needs.