Rutgers, The State University, has a long tradition of providing training to New Jersey's workforce. One unit of the university where companies seek support in upgrading the skill levels of their employees is the NJAES Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE). OCPE became involved in worker training several years after the New Jersey Workforce Development Partnership (WDP) Program was established in 1992 under the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL). The Customized Training program is designed to benefit both employees and employers by enhancing the skills of workers, thereby increasing their productivity and the competitiveness of the employers. This investment by the State is intended to lead to the creation of new jobs, the retention of jobs and the potential increase in wages for the trained workers.
Since 1997, in an effort to support a core mission of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station - that of economic development - OCPE partnered with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Office of Customized Training to bring productivity-building education to New Jersey's corporations. OCPE has been working with businesses throughout New Jersey, helping them to secure Customized Training grants to develop and upgrade their front-line worker skills to ensure long-term competitiveness in the global economy.
OCPE was established in 1906 with the aim of providing the most current technical and agricultural information to New Jersey's farmers who were unable to leave their farms to come to Rutgers for a four-year degree. Two- and three-day short courses provided farmers with the most current agricultural research to enhance farm productivity. "It is a source of great pride that OCPE continues to successfully support the employee learning needs of many of New Jersey's leading employers and residents while enhancing the statewide reputation of Rutgers University and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station," said Ned Lipman, director of OCPE.
OCPE's workforce development training activities have accelerated over the last several years. From 1997 to the end of FY 2009, OCPE trained approximately 44,000 employees and its employer clients have been awarded close to $5.25 million in grants. In FY 2009 alone, OCPE partnered with thirteen employers, including seven of the ten largest hospitals in New Jersey, who were awarded in excess of $3.2 million in grants. Close to 23,000 employees from these thirteen businesses were trained by screened instructors in such diverse subject areas as Food Safety Applications, Computer Applications, Language and Cultural Techniques, Teambuilding, Communications, Business Writing, Professionalism, Managing Conflict, and Goal Setting. In addition, OCPE partners with various companies to deliver industry-specific instruction to employees.
The newest addition to OCPE's course offerings is Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Training to healthcare facilities. In the fall of 2008, OCPE partnered with Cooper University Hospital in Camden, which had recently invested over $30million in EMR software. Cooper was awarded a $1.4 million workforce development grant, more than $1million of which was for training their 4,000 employees in the use of this new software. Instructor evaluations on the training were outstanding and follow-up technical support is currently being provided by OCPE to ensure that a smooth launch of the new technology delivers the promised productivity gains and improved client care. Most recently, the DOL announced an award of $1.2 million for the introduction of this technology to the Hackensack University Medical Center, an OCPE client. In the first month of FY 2010 alone, employer clients have looked to OCPE to deliver over $2 million in customized worker training. Current fiscal year clients include Telcordia Technologies, St. Joseph's Medical Center, A&P (The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company), and Actavis USA, Inc.
"We will start FY10 supporting seven organizations, including two hospitals, an environmental engineering firm, a generic pharmaceutical firm, a telecommunications research firm, the largest food retailer in the State and a community blood bank. Our goal is to submit for DOL approval at least one new training application per month," said Kathleen Marrs, senior project administrator of OCPE's Workforce Development Unit. In addition to providing trainers, OCPE offers potential grant awardees its expertise in grant writing, administrative support in the grant application process including suggestions for DOL-approved courses, as well as assistance in using the DOL online system. "Perhaps our most valued contribution to the grant process is our relationships with the DOL business representatives who hold our office in high regard for the ethical, accurate and thoroughness of the applications with which we are associated," Marrs said.
Learn more about New Jersey workforce training available through the Customized Employer Training Grants program.
For the entire range of courses and services available through the Rutgers NJAES Office of Continuing Professional Education, visit the website.
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