By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced the second round of $4 million in funding, after the first $3.5 million in September 2022, to train apprentices in nontraditional fields through United States Department of Labor-approved Registered Apprenticeship programs. The Growing Apprenticeships in Nontraditional Sectors (GAINS) grant program makes the funding possible.
GAIN’s goal seeks to develop new and existing apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries to support better-paying careers, attain advanced credentials, and promote equality of opportunity, upward mobility, and economic fairness in the state.
The program has a specific focus on underrepresented populations. GAINS grants prioritize women and people of color, so much so that two-thirds of grantees are females or minorities. According to the NJDOL, women account for 67 percent of GAINS apprentices, and more than half of apprentices are in the healthcare sector supporting the COVID-19 response.
“The earn-while-you-learn model plays a critical role in developing trained and skilled workers where they’re needed most, and removes the tough choice between learning new skills and earning a wage,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Apprenticeship programs provide workers with the stability of a fair wage during training and throughout their careers.”
The Notice of Grant Opportunity (NGO) recommends twelve sectorial/occupational focus areas. However, all occupations recognized by the USDOL “apprenticeable” are encouraged to apply.
To become a recipient of the funding, letters of intent are due by noon on April 6, applications are due by noon on April 14s, and proposals submitted must provide new apprentices a starting wage of no less than $16 per hour.
“We have a vision for offering opportunity to our members, especially young people with a desire to work with their minds AND their hands to serve the people of South Jersey,” said Kasie Harrism C.E.O. and co-owner of grantee Laury Heating Cooling of Vineland. “The grant has allowed us to offer competitive wages to our apprentices and various benefits. It has certainly put the company on a positive trajectory and we are excited about future growth.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s administration works to create new Registered Apprenticeship programs, with 544 new programs and 13,483 new apprentices since being placed in office. The GAINS grant is part of Governor Murphy’s New Jersey Apprenticeship Network, which seeks to make the state a leader for these programs nationwide and provide options for residents to build meaningful careers.
Previous efforts with GAINS funding have proven to be very successful. During the last 2023 fiscal year, GAINS grant funding awarded eight applicants, allowing the eight participants to onboard more than 700 apprentices in various occupations, from health care to truck driving.
To learn more about the New Jersey Office of Apprenticeship, visit https://www.nj.gov/labor/career-services/apprenticeship/index.shtml.
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