Menendez Announces Proposals in Bergen County to Close Skills Gap & Help Unemployment By Connecting Workers With In-Demand Jobs

Menendez Announces Proposals in Bergen County to Close Skills Gap & Help Unemployment By Connecting Workers With In-Demand Jobs

BERGEN COUNTY - At events at Bergen Community College and Camden County College today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced a set of proposals designed to help close the gap created by jobs that are available, but cannot be filled due to lack of workers with the necessary specialized skills. As the economy slowly recovers and demand for skilled workers in specialized fields grows, it is estimated we will need an additional 3 million skilled workers to fill jobs by 2018. This so-called skills gap can create lost productivity for businesses that will miss out on the workers they need, less wages for workers who remain in low skill jobs, and slower long-term economic growth for New Jersey and the nation.

"We need a national commitment to provide Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses are looking for in a 21st century economy," said Menendez. "It's not rocket science -- people need jobs and businesses need skilled workers. So let's give businesses a tax incentive to train these unemployed New Jerseyans and let's build additional successful partnerships between businesses and colleges. It's a win-win for everyone. Workers can access good jobs with new skills training, businesses can hire to fill their needs, and our economy can grow at a faster pace."

Menendez's proposals include a competitive tax creditprogram to encourage workforce partnerships between businesses and colleges, and a tax credit up to $3,000 for any American business that is willing to train a long-term unemployed worker for an open job.

In North Jersey, Senator Menendez highlighted Crestron Electronics of Rockleigh, which partnered with Bergen Community College, Bergen County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), New Jersey Department of Labor, and NJBIA to create Crestron's Technical Customized Training Program to provide job seekers with the necessary skills to qualify for technical positions at Crestron. To date, 24 people have completed the program, which provides a strong technical foundation for electronic testers and technicians, and all 24 were offered a position with Crestron at the end of their training.

"Bergen Community College's School of Continuing Education is proud and thrilled to be an integral piece of the partnership with the WIB and Crestron manufacturing. Our Workforce Programs help develop the skills needed so our students can achieve long term employment opportunities. Continuing Education is looking to the future in helping to facilitate Senator Menendez's initiatives for the business community," said Sandra Sroka, Interim Dean of Bergen Community College's School of Continuing Education Corporate and Public Sector Training.

Martin Devaney, Crestron Senior Director of Human Resources said about the training program partnership, "It's all about the private and public sectors partnering together to meet the needs of supply and demand."

Tammy Molinelli, Executive Director of Bergen County Workforce Investment Board at County of Bergen, echoed Mr. Devaney's sentiments: "It's all about building relationships and connecting the supply chain of services from the job seeker to the business and employment."

Crestron is a true American success story that was started over 40 years ago in a living room by CEO George Feldstein. Even though Crestron is a global enterprise with headquarters in Rockleigh, Feldstein has remained committed to manufacturing most of their products here in America. They have also resisted the trend to depend on cheaper labor overseas and instead participate in training programs like the one with Bergen County College to create jobs.

"Through hard work and determination I was able to restart my career," added Oscar De Los Reyes, who now works at Crestron as an Electronic Technician after completing the training program.

Menendez made a similar announcement later in the day at Camden County College.

Specifically, Senator Menendez's plan would:

Competitive Tax-Credit Program for Job Training Partnerships:

This proposal will provide $1 billion in funding for a competitive tax credit to encourage partnerships between businesses and colleges. Because the application is competitive, awards will be prioritized to those partnerships that demonstrating:

  • The greatest probability that those who complete the program will secure employment;
  • The greatest potential for providing workers who complete the program with skills that can provide long-term job and income security
  • The strongest market demand for the type of training offered;
  • The greatest probability that the program would create a net increase in job training opportunities
  • A strong need in the community for skills training;
  • The ability to allow nontraditional learners to complete the training
  • The ability and capacity to implement the program in a reasonable period of time
  • Ability to leverage additional sources of capital

Additional consideration should be given for those applications that show:

  • An ability to match the tax-credit award with capital from other sources, whether private or otherwise; AND
  • The greatest ability to offer training programs that result in an industry recognized credential that is stackable and/or portable

Tax Credit for Businesses Who Train Long-Term Unemployed:

Of the 13 million unemployed Americans, nearly one-third have been out of work for one year or longer. Chairman Bernanke has called long-term unemployment a national crisis, saying "this is unheard of, they are losing the skills they had, they are losing their connections to the labor force."

This proposal would provide any business that is willing to train a long-term unemployed worker for an open job that needs a certain type of certificate or other training credential a tax credit up to $3,000 for the costs of that training. The business would have to be based in the U.S. and the training would have to be in coordination with an institution of higher learning.

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Press Contact

Menendez Press Office: 202-224-4744