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At a time in New Jersey’s history when the need for skilled workers is constantly increasing, one group is working to provide employers with essential workforce education and training for current and emerging employees. For more than 10 years, the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development has provided training programs for various industries and all skill levels.
Created by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) in 2004, the Consortium’s mission is to improve the New Jersey workforce and bridge the skills gap amongst its workers. “Since our inception, the Consortium has trained nearly 190,000 workers at over 7,900 companies in New Jersey, all through the 19 community colleges,” explains Chief Executive Officer Sivaraman Anbarasan. The Consortium provides employers and their employees access to resources of the state’s 19 community colleges, including over 1,000 programs taught by highly qualified faculty with business and industry experience.
In 2007, thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD), the Consortium and New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) partnered to create the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program. The program provides employers and their employees with grant-funded training to improve essential PC skills (Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Databases, etc.), communications (verbal, written, and customer service), mathematics and measurement, English as a Second Language, and Spanish in the workplace. It also provides training in “Employability Skills” such as team building, problem solving and time management.
“Now the small business employers can send their employees to a community college location closest to their office and get them trained in basic skills,” says Anbarasan. “This program has become the most successful, largest training program for the Department of Labor in New Jersey.”
“One of our proudest workforce development achievements is the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “By working in partnership with the state and the Community College Consortium, we have established a very successful program that has helped businesses provide their employees with the skills they need and what the workplace demands.”
The Consortium has always worked closely with NJBIA to resolve issues affecting small businesses throughout the state. “Ten years ago, NJBIA identified a major roadblock facing small companies in the state of New Jersey,” begins Anbarasan. “They were unable to participate in the state’s grant-funded training programs for their employees. The Consortium worked with NJBIA to solve the problem by offering training programs at more than 70 community college locations across the 21 counties.”
NJCCC has been a NJBIA member since 1991 and the Consortium has been able to utilize NJBIA to help focus on the needs of small businesses. “Access to industry experts and valuable research information is one of the key benefits we derive from NJBIA,” says Anbarasan. “With that access, we are able to do our jobs better, analyzing the labor market and job demand, and design training curriculum that serves the employers demands and needs.”
The Consortium was created in 2003 as a single point of contact for employers looking for skilled workers in New Jersey. “The Consortium began in 2003 … With the sole mission of improving the workforce and creating a new pipeline for the employers of New Jersey,” says Anbarasan.
Since then, it has played a key role in the New Jersey Manufacturing Training Initiative, a joint effort by the community colleges, NJDOL and the NJBIA to give the state’s workforce the skills needed to boost Garden State manufacturing.
If you are a New Jersey employer or employee interested in learning more about the programs offered, please contact the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development at 609-393-9000 or visit www.njworkforce.org for more information.