Murphy announces apprenticeship grants to help workers get a leg up

Sansone Auto Mall is a sprawling complex on Route 1 in the Avenel section of Woodbridge. Gov. Phil Murphy came to give a $440,000 apprenticeship grant as part of a $10 million program in the current-year budget called the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network.

“Since our administration took office, so a little bit more than a year, New Jersey has seen the start of more than 140 new apprenticeship programs — which is a big deal — which in turn have hired nearly 2,400 new apprentices and issues more than 1,150 industry-recognized certificates of completion. That’s a big deal,” Murphy said.

The idea is to give a boost to those who need a skill they can parlay into a job or a career. Murphy said he’s talking about middle-skills jobs that start at around $50,000 a year and can eventually become $100,000 jobs.

“It may be too easy to think of the innovation economy only in terms of companies, in say, the life sciences, or health care or tech, or cybersecurity. But make no mistake, as cars get more technologically advanced, the workforce needed to keep them on the road must become more advanced as well,” Murphy said.

Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo announced seven grants Monday totaling $2.7 million and said it’s clear apprenticeship is a priority.

“The main reason for this is simple, because it works. Our newly created Office of Apprenticeship has been working diligently to change the way our state’s businesses and workers think about the often overlooked, but viable and valuable career pathway of apprenticeship,” Angelo said.

John Kennedy’s manufacturing organization got a grant.

“Sixty percent of us don’t graduate from college. That’s a Wall Street Journal number, not mine. So what do the 60 percent do? We’ve got to give them pathways. This is a good step,” Kennedy said.

“When employers are willing to put skin in the game, we’re there to match them with their funding on the training side,” said Angelo.

Jason Alvarado said he’s always been interested in working on cars. Sansone made him an apprentice five months ago.

“For the first time since I started working, this job has given me the confidence that I will progress in my career as a technician,” said Alvarado.

Announcements like Monday’s on apprenticeships don’t make for much in the way of controversy or political intrigue. But somebody has to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of government.