U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) was joined today by local public officials, educators, workforce developers and employers in the health care field as he announced a nearly $4.5 million federal Recovery Act grant awarded to Passaic County Community College (PCCC).
The grant, the only one of its kind to be awarded in the state of New Jersey, is awarded to the college's Passaic County Multi-Skilled Healthcare Worker Training Initiative. The three-year initiative will help 1,150 unemployed and entry-level workers obtain the skills needed to enter the health care workforce.
"I am pleased that the Recovery Act is delivering again for Passaic County residents, this time to help train local workers for new jobs," said Pascrell, who was a co-author of and voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009. "As we've seen unemployment rise over the last two years, the health care sector has been our silver lining--adding new jobs month after month--631,000 in all since the recession began. And we will need millions more qualified health care professionals in the years to come. By 2020, New Jersey alone is expected to face a shortage of 2,800 physicians and over 40,000 nurses. Nationally, we will lack 55,000 physicians, 1 million nurses, and 2.5 million allied health professionals. We will be unable to fill these vacancies without building the pipeline for a workforce trained in the skills needed to meet the changing demands of the health care sector. Passaic County Community College is the perfect entity to lead this community-wide effort here in New Jersey, as they will partner with other members of the local healthcare, business and workforce community."
"Today, President Obama's administration is keeping with the president's often stated belief that community colleges are the cornerstone of the nation's economic prosperity," said Dr. Steven Rose, president of Passaic County Community College. "We serve the community because we are the community. This grant is a tremendous help to us staying true to our mission to provide education and skills that will help people become self-sustaining, economically-viable members of our community."
"At a time when the job market is tight for local workers, the health care sector continues to be an area in which strong job growth is expected," said Sen. Robert Menendez. "We have to make sure New Jerseyans have the training and skills to get these jobs, and that's the purpose of this investment. This is important for the health and wealth of New Jersey families."
"As the health care industry continues to grow, skilled workers are in high demand," said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who helped author the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "This federal funding will help put people to work in Passaic County and strengthen New Jersey's workforce of educated, well-trained health care professionals."
Once the Initiative is underway, PCCC will provide coursework and classroom education, recruit and enroll participants, and place individuals in employment with partner organizations. PCCC will enter into agreements with eight employer partners in the health care industry to identify the needed skills of new workers, provide training activities to participants, and give hiring preference to participants that complete the program. A total of eleven partners will work with PCCC to promote and publicize the Initiative's activities, ensure employer participation, identify and refer unemployed individuals, and assess unemployed participant skill levels.
The $4,475,041 grant to PCCC is part of the more than $225 million in U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) grant awards that will be used nationwide to train 15,000 people in job skills needed to access careers in health care, IT and other high growth fields. Through existing partnerships with local employers, the recipients of the grants have already identified roughly 10,000 job openings for skilled workers that likely will become available in the next two years in areas like nursing, pharmacy technology and information technology. The grants will fund 55 separate training programs in 30 states to help train people for secure, well-paid health jobs and meet the growing employment demand for health workers. Employment services will be available via the Department of Labor's local One Stop Career Centers, and training will be offered at community colleges and other local education providers.
"The Recovery Act's investments are making a positive difference in the lives of America's working families," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Recovery Act funded grants announced today will ensure thousands of workers across the nation can receive high-quality training and employment services, which will lead to good jobs in healthcare and other industries offering career-track employment and good pay and benefits."