By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – The Murphy Administration issued a two-year, $10 million pilot program, Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLA), to enable unemployed and severely underemployed residents in New Jersey to join and thrive in the labor market recently.
Funds from the Murphy Administration, the Office of Innovation, and the New Jersey Department Of Labor and Workforce Development will grant accepted applicants job-coaching, training, and employment support. The preeminent goals of the LiLA program are to promote equitable opportunities, garner upward mobility, and increase economic fairness in New Jersey.
“New Jersey’s workers told us they wanted more flexible ways to develop the skills to obtain the jobs of tomorrow,” said Beth Simone Noveck, New Jersey State Chief Innovation Officer and Chair of the Future of Work Task Force in a press release. “We listened. I am delighted that New Jersey is moving forward to create this first-of-its-kind Lifelong Learning Account that will provide flexible support to help workers make informed decisions about the training they want and they choose.”
New Jersey has had a steady 3.4 percent unemployment rate since November 2022. Thus, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in November, 161,600 people were unemployed in the state. As the labor market in New Jersey grows, employers are in demand of eligible employees.
The LiLA program aims to aid the demand for more workers. The initiative is built on empowering participants, especially those without college degrees or workplace credentials, to drive their career development and to secure training and supportive services for individuals to find and keep sustainable work.
Applicants can be non-profit or for-profit entities, government agencies, or institutes of higher education. However, eligible applicants for LiLA must meet an array of criteria. Grantees must be New Jersey residents and 18 years of age or older. Participants also must have an income consistent with ALICE, be unemployed for 26 successive weeks or be significantly unemployed, and must guarantee their capability and readiness to complete identified training and obtain employment.
The program intends to select and serve 100 or more applicants. Of the selected applicants, the individuals will receive $750,000 per year upon grantees abiding by all the program performance goals and expectations. Ten percent of the money funds administrative costs, while 90 percent goes towards career coaching program costs. Grantees will also receive $9,600 for training and wraparound services such as childcare and transportation while individuals complete their education and training.
Intended outcomes from this grant include that at least 80 percent of all applicants receive an industry-recognized credential or degree. Further goals include obtaining a 65 percent placement rate and a 50 percent retention rate in 90 days or more.
“The barriers to family-sustaining employment are well known, but here in New Jersey — with this grant and other forward-thinking initiatives — we are creating life-changing opportunities for underserved residents,” said Governor Murphy. “This is what it means to build a stronger, fairer economy for all.”
LiLA’s grant period runs from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025, and grants awarded to accepted applicants occur on March 31, 2023. Applications for the LiLA grant are due at 4 p.m. on March 10, 2023.
To learn more about the requirements of an application and how to apply, visit https://www.nj.gov/labor/assets/PDFs/Grants/FY23/LiLA%20NGO%20-%20FINAL%20v2.pdf.
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