BY TOM HESTER SR.
The state government has invested nearly $3.6 million to train employees in New Jersey industries, Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday.
The money, provided through the state Department of Labor’s Workforce Development Partnership Program, will fund training for 8,509 workers at 81 companies in skills that will improve business operations and enhance the marketability of the employees. The companies will spend more than $5.2 million to pay the employees while they undergo the training.
“Customized training grants advance the skill level of the workforce and increase the ability of New Jersey businesses to compete in the global economy,” Christie said during a visit to the historic James Candy Co. in Atlantic City, one of the earliest makers of salt water taffy.
“James Candy Company, which started here in the 1880s, is more than a symbol of New Jersey’s rich heritage,” the governor said. “It represents the type of sustained manufacturing industry in our state this administration is working with to help strengthen and improve the quality of our workforce in order to meet the demands of today's economy."
James Candy employs 49 people at its Atlantic City plant and maintains 12 retail stores, 9 seaside stores and 3 chocolate shops. The company received a $38,400 training grant this month to teach 39 workers at the plant techniques in “lean manufacturing,” as well as team-building and supervisory skills.
“Lean manufacturing refers to a streamlined process that cuts waste, repetitiveness and operation time so a company may more quickly manufacture and distribute consumer goods, Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said. “Our industry analysts believe lean manufacturing is one of six industries promising to lead New Jersey’s economic growth."
The Labor Department has awarded more than $22.8 million to train more than 60,000 workers at over 400 businesses during the past 22 months. Those businesses invested another $35 million in wages. During the same period, more than $3.7 million in workplace literacy training grants was awarded to approximately 60 businesses to increase the workplace capabilities of nearly 9,000 workers to improve workplace skills.