A very special announcement delivered Oct. 30 in NJIT’s Eberhardt Hall drew members of the university community as well as guests from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD). There, LWD Commissioner Aaron Fichtner officially disclosed the seven higher education recipients of $8.4 million in state grants to oversee New Jersey’s Talent Development Centers (TDC) , designed to create innovative career pathways and apprenticeships in the Garden State’s key industries.

NJIT has been named host of the TDC for construction and utilities. “This center is a very fast growing industry,” commented NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “It represents about 9 percent of the economy of the State of New Jersey, and we know there is a wide range of jobs”

The other recipients include Camden County College for advanced manufacturing, Fairleigh Dickinson University for retail, hospitality and tourism, Rowan College at Burlington County for transportation, logistics and distribution, Rowan College at Gloucester County for financial services, and Rutgers University for health care and for life sciences. Each institution will be awarded $1.2 million to provide credential-focused education and training in its respective industry to dislocated, disadvantaged and currently employed workers. Toward this end, each also will be tasked with developing employer-driven partnerships that involve businesses, high schools, colleges, universities, labor unions and workforce development.

At the LWD press conference, (from left) Aaron Fichtner, LWD commissioner; Gale Spak, associate vice president of continuing professional education at NJIT; and Joel S. Bloom, NJIT president.

“Today, I am proud to be here at NJIT to announce our department’s ongoing and expanded commitment to building a skilled workforce and to expanding economic opportunity,” Fichtner said. “The Talent Development Centers do quite a number of things. The first is, as centers of excellence, they help to provide leadership, understand the needs of our key industries and communicate those needs to our partners throughout the state. They also work to develop new career pathways and apprenticeship programs that combine literacy training, classroom training and on-the-job training, so that individuals have that clear pathway to a job and a career.”

The $8.4 million in grant funding comes from the Workforce Development Partnership program and the supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills. Each $1.2 million contract runs for one year with an option to renew.

The TDCs are part of a broader statewide initiative called “65 by 25: Many Paths, One Future,” which focuses on increasing the percentage of New Jersey adults who have earned an industry-valued post-secondary credential or degree from 50 to 65 percent by 2025.

“Our selection as a Talent Development Center positions NJIT as a key partner dedicated to establishing new career pathways for New Jersey citizens in the construction and utilities sector,” said Gale Spak, associate vice president of continuing professional education at the university. “NJIT has worked with numerous industry sectors developing workforce training and apprenticeship programs that align with the needs of businesses today. We are excited for the opportunity to expand our success with the construction and utilities industry.”