TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Jobless New Jersey residents may soon be able to receive training from potential employers without jeopardizing their unemployment benefits.
The measure, scheduled to go before the full Assembly on Thursday, is part of a multi-bill package that proponents say will create jobs and boost New Jersey’s economy.
The plan is modeled after a Georgia program that lets unemployed people receive six weeks of jobs training. In Georgia, more than
11,000 employers have participated in the program, subsequently hiring 42 percent of the trainees.
If it becomes law in New Jersey, those participating in the program could get up to 24 hours of training per week and up to
$100 per week to help defray training-related costs, including transportation, clothing and child care.
The bill appropriates $10 million for the program, which would be overseen by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Besides helping workers learn new skills and potentially find them jobs, supporters say the bill would save the state millions of dollars it pays out in unemployment benefits. They also say it would help businesses that need workers but can’t currently afford to hire full-time help.
“This innovative program will allow out-of-work New Jerseyans to develop the new skills they need and keep them tethered to the workforce even in the face of unemployment,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said.
Oliver is one of the bill’s primary sponsors in that chamber along with fellow Democrats Joseph Cryan of Union, Paul Moriarty of Turnersville, Jerry Green of Plainfield and Bonnie Watson Coleman of Trenton.
Identical legislation has been introduced in the senate by Democrats Linda Greenstein of Mercer County and Robert Gordon of Bergen County.
“We know this approach works,” said Green. “It benefits everyone, giving employers an opportunity to properly train potential employees and giving workers that chance to decide if the job is a good fit for them. If so, both workers and employees get off to a great start.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)