Looking forward, we are all concerned
about what the economy will bring and how it will impact our ability to keep
our company and employees at the top of their game. With so many changes in the marketplace, it becomes even more
critical to continue to train employees in the best manufacturing practices to
assure jobs stay in New Jersey. The New
Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) through the
Workforce Development partnership (WDP) provides financial assistance to make
certain that happens.
Through the Office of Grants
Operations, the NJDOL provides a number of funding opportunities for New Jersey
Businesses: Customized Training Grants, Literacy Skills Training Grants,
Apprenticeship Programs, Green Jobs Training Partnership program, and
Manufacturing Incentive Program.
The Department and the NJMEP have
strategically partnered to ensure that New Jersey Manufacturers are aware of
the Customized Training Grants and effectively take advantage of the
opportunity to leverage state training dollars to train employees. To help those interested in applying for
Customized Training Grants, the NJDOL hosts technical workshops quarterly to
provide assistance in completing the application process. In addition, mini workshops, which require
an RSVP, are scheduled twice a week.
The grants are competitive, so it is important to understand the process
and what the department is looking for in the application. NJMEP has a significant level of expertise
in helping many NJ manufacturers in securing Customized Training Grants and
implementing the training. In fact,
NJMEP has assisted New Jersey manufactures to secure an average of $2.5 million
in Customized Training Grants over the past three years.
Three points that will be key in the
application process for FY 2009-2010 are:
1) The program
for which funding is requested must be realistic in scope and deliverability.
2) A Career
Ladder – Is there a career path on which employees can improve their position
within the company.
3) The Narrative
– What do employees need to succeed in the organization and what does the
organization need to meet its mission.
The narrative needs to provide a clear explanation of the vision and
goals of the applying organization and how both employees and the business will
benefit from enhancing the skills of the workers.
The State is expecting the grants to
assist in the creation of new jobs, the retention of jobs and/or increasing in
wages for the trained workers. A
clearly written narrative defines the parameters on which to measure the
success of the training program and should lay the foundation for indicating
how the State’s objectives in funding the training have been met.
It’s no secret that the State is facing
significant budget challenges just as businesses have been challenged by the
economy. However, the Governor remains
committed to help NJ businesses to remain and grow in the State.
Montero joined the Office of Grants Operations as Assistant Director, just as
any business owner would do, she looked at her organization, then conducted an
assessment that determined the application process could be improved to assist
businesses and streamline efforts.
After talking with businesses, stakeholders and staff, Montero determined
she needed to publish a schedule of application and notification dates as
applicants had previously no way of determining when grants would be
awarded. She also made certain the
application process was open, competitive and transparent to reflect the
Governor’s new ethics code. Clients
explained they were often unclear as to what the department was looking for in
the application. To address this
concern the quarterly workshops were established. This year, mini workshops were added twice a week. The workshops include a panel discussion
with grant recipients who share their experiences with the process, the
training and the results.
Driven by wanting to provide her
clients with the best possible resources, Montero met with vendors providing
the services to DOL clients. One vendor
impacted her own operation. After
hearing Bob Loderstedt, President of NJMEP speak, Montero applied some of the
Lean practices Loderstedt spoke of to her group.
Montero recently spoke with us. “The
Department is proud of the successful relations with NJMEP. NJMEP understands the manufacturing sector
and is very realistic in its grant applications. They rarely leave unexpended dollars on the table, which allows
us to make better grant determinations for other businesses,” reported Montero.
Baxter Healthcare, a DOL grant
recipient and NJMEP client, sat on the panel during the most recent DOL
technical Training workshop. Baxter’s
HR training and Development expert Jennifer Grace, spoke on the importance the
DOL grant played in funding its Lean Training.
Another NJMEP client, Westlock Controls were able to train its workforce
in Lean Manufacturing through a DOL Customized Training Grant. Sam Belony, production engineer for Westlock
reported, “Through the training the company was able to reduce its shop floor
by 50%, improve product workflow in one line by 75% and identify work that is
currently being done on the outside that could be brought inside, creating more
jobs within the company. We couldn’t
have done it without the DOL grant.”
The amount of funding for the 2009-2010
grant programs have not been announced yet.
Montero, speaking at the May workshop, shared her strategy should DOL
experience the same kind of budget cuts other departments are facing… “We will not
cut the number of grants, however, we will be looking very carefully for
applications that are realistic regarding implementation of the programs
seeking funding. If grant amounts are reduced, companies who wish to train
their employees will still be able to receive assistance from us.”
New Jersey manufacturers have been able
to implement programs that otherwise would not have been possible had it not
been for the DOL Customized Training Grants.
If you are interested in learning more about the grants, how they can
assist your company, and applying for a grant, contact us for more information
or for a complimentary Quick View Assessment to identify areas in which a grant
can be most beneficial.