Menendez Launches Jersey Jobs Tour at Elizabeth Jobs Training Center

Menendez Launches Jersey Jobs Tour at Elizabeth Jobs Training Center

Menendez unveils legislation to create direct jobs pipeline between community colleges & local businesses looking to hire

ELIZABETH, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez kicked-off his statewide Jersey Jobs Tour today at Union County College’s (UCC) Center of Economic and Workforce Development (CEWD) in Elizabeth, where he announced legislation that would expand high-skilled, job-training partnerships between community colleges and local businesses looking to hire to increase employment opportunities for American workers.

“My Jersey Jobs Tour is all about meeting face-to-face with businesses and workers to discuss strategies for success in the 21st century, and workforce development is a great place to start,” said Sen. Menendez, a senior member of both the Senate Banking and Finance Committees. “I often hear from employers throughout New Jersey who have jobs to fill but are struggling to hire workers with the right skillset. My legislation will encourage more businesses and colleges to create win-win partnerships that equip students and unemployed workers with in-demand skills and provide area employers with a strong talent pipeline.”


According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 5.7 million open positions across our country that employers are looking to fill. Yet many of the better-paying job openings are in sectors that require workers with specialized skills. Earlier this year, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that in the first-quarter of 2017, 45% of small businesses reported difficulty finding qualified applicants for unfilled jobs.

Sen. Menendez introduced the Better Education and Skills Training (BEST) for America’s Workforce Act to help address our national skills gap. The legislation would create a competitive, $1 billion tax-credit program to encourage job training partnerships between local colleges and local businesses that equip workers with skills that match communities’ needs. It would also provide local businesses that train and hire long-term unemployed workers up to $4,000 in tax credits for the tuition costs at a community college for each job filled that requires a specific certificate or other training credential.

The BEST for America’s Workforce Act uses a competitive application process to ensure that federal funding goes to training partnerships that are:

  • Most likely to secure employment for workers who complete the program;
  • Most likely to create a net increase in job training opportunities;
  • Designed to equip workers with skills that lead to long-term job and income security;
  • Tailored to provide skills that meet the strongest market demand and the needs of local communities;
  • Capable of including nontraditional learners in training programs;
  • Able to implement the program in a reasonable period of time;

Additional consideration can go to applications that show: 

  • The ability to leverage additional sources of capital; AND
  • The ability to offer training programs that result in certificates or credentials that are stackable and/or portable.


The senator highlighted UCC’s successful jobs-training partnership with local businesses.  The CEWD provides training and support services to help the unemployed and the underemployed to be better positioned to enter and compete in today’s workforce as well as to develop life-long learning skills.

“BEST for America’s Workforce Act is key to supporting the work of county colleges throughout the country in retraining long term unemployed workers for high-skilled jobs,” said Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, UCC’s president. “I support Senator Menendez’s legislation and urge the U.S. Senate to pass this as quickly as possible to help those in need of retraining.”

The senator was also joined today the head of New Jersey Precision Technologies (NJPT), the leading and largest all-Mitsubishi wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) and computer numerically-controlled (CNC) machining service shop in the northeast, and two employees he recently hired out of UCC. His company has partnered with UCC to train and ultimately recruit students who complete the college’s Advanced Manufacturing: Metal Fabrication and CNC Machinist training program to both put people to work and fulfill the company’s hiring needs. Several recent hires who went through the program were previously unemployed or seeking to expand their career opportunities and went to UCC to be retrained for available jobs.

“The need for constant training is extremely important to the success of manufacturing. As new technologies emerge and become available to produce products more effectively, it is vital to embrace them and train on them to compete internationally,” said NJPT President Bob Tarantino. “With the help of Union County College and the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Development Center at Camden County College, we have received training assistance that allows our people and NJPT to provide our customers with high quality products to compete in the world market.”

Today’s event in Union County also marks the start of Sen. Menendez’s Jersey Jobs Tour, an ambitious plan to visit each of the state’s 21 counties in the coming weeks and months to meet with business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, students, and local leaders to discuss how to drive innovation, create greater economic opportunity, and deliver prosperity to the people of New Jersey.

“We’ve made significant economic strides in recent years, but New Jerseyans still grapple with real economic challenges,” Sen. Menendez said.  “That’s why I’m focused on solutions that will help more Americans climb the economic ladder – from making college affordable and investing in transit-oriented development to preparing more workers for today’s fastest-growing fields.”

Sen. Menendez’s Jersey Jobs Tour will include legislative initiatives, roundtable discussions, tours of local businesses, visits to new job training centers and other events focused on New Jersey’s diverse economy – from North Jersey’s bustling shipping industry and South Jersey’s cranberry bogs and blueberry fields to innovative sectors like healthcare, information technology, and the Jersey Shore’s thriving tourism, recreation, and fishing industries.

Throughout the senator’s travels across New Jersey, we’ll be keeping a Jersey Jobs Tour Travelblog with behind the scenes footage and photos, social media feeds of events, and full recaps of visits.