(proposed by Thomas Moran - Morris County Freeholder Candidate)
Although Morris County reported one of the lowest unemployment rates in New Jersey in July and August of 2013 – the rate without seasonal adjustment in July being reported at 6.6% - the unemployment rate for the county and the state have been stubbornly higher than the rates prior to the Great Recession starting in 2008, before which unemployment rates in the county were running at around 4.4%. The state, with assistance from the federal government, has a number of programs to assist those seeking employment and to match job seekers with employers. This proposal adds an element to help make that matching more targeted and to build relationships between businesses seeking skills and the county’s training facilities.
The way this would work is that a coordinator would be designated at the Morris County School of Technology. In addition a small team would be pulled together from the School of Technology, the Morris County Human Services Office, County College of Morris (CCM) and other service groups that operate under the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development – groups such as People Helping People, Employment Horizons, etc. These groups have members who are already familiar with the job openings in the area, have contact with job seekers and may even have knowledge of specific skills the job seekers bring to the search and gaps that arise between the skill set in hand and the skills needed for a particular application. This group of people working to identify and isolate skill gaps we call the “training working group”.
At any given time there are a good number of jobs posted on Jobs4Jersey.com's OnRamp, a service of the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development. These postings have detailed descriptions of the jobs posted and give any special requirements for the job. An applicant may feel that they are a good fit for the job but lack one specific requirement. Under this proposal that applicant could review the situation with their employment counselor, and determine what specific skill or skills need work. The counselor could then take that rough proposal back to the training working group and see if the gap can be filled in a one or two week special course at the School of Technology or at CCM. If the skills can be taught in a brief course, and the job seeker is prepared to attend the course, then the course dates would be published for general enrollment and the specific job seeker, along with a small number of additional individuals would enroll and take the course. Upon completion the job seekers should be ready to submit the resume for the posted job. If the interview fails, the job seeker and counselor can revisit the process, assess the failure and perhaps start over.
In addition, the company would be engaged for feedback on the process. The company would provide an assessment of the skill set that was delivered after the training, where it met the criteria for employment and where it failed. The company could also be encouraged to take a step to enroll in the New Jersey Department of Labor Workforce Development – Employer Customized Skills Development Grants. This would be a mechanism by which to forge a Public – Private partnership with the employers in the area to enhance the benefit of hiring employees living in Morris County. The employer could, of course, decline to be surveyed or to participate in the grants program. The County team could consider appointing staff to assist employers in making the grant proposal, this would likely be determined over time with the success of the program.
This program is designed to
fill a gap between existing programs and so, hopefully, to speed the path to
employment and to stretch skills and so lead to higher wages. The School of Technology and CCM both have a
strong focus on providing skills that translate into jobs and advancement in
the workplace. This program seeks to focus on gaps and refinements that may
make a difference in landing a particular job or job skill. In addition there
is an objective of adding a level of engagement for the job seeker in the job
search and for the business in the skills matching process.