New Jersey Apprenticeship Signing Day
Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo and NJMEP CEO, John W. Kennedy Propel Manufacturing Forward
June 7, 2019 marked the first Apprenticeship Signing Day for New Jersey manufacturers. The event honored the students, companies, and organizations involved with NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™.
Friday, June 7,2019 was an incredible step forward in the initiative to help drive New Jersey manufacturing forward. NJMEP hosted the first Apprenticeship Signing Day, to celebrate the companies and apprentices involved with NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™. This program was developed to help provide pathways for individuals to begin or advance their careers in manufacturing and related sectors. To honor the companies, students, and government officials involved in NJMEP’s push to bolster the New Jersey manufacturing workforce, Signing Day was devised.
Signing Day was a glowing success. The Commissioner, Robert Asaro-Angelo of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP signed a proclamation of commitment for each company with apprentices enrolled in the program. Beyond the actual signing, the event included additional activities for all those that attended.
New Jersey Apprenticeship Signing Day at NJMEP
Signing Day officially started at 1:00pm with a Networking Event. Before the commissioner arrived, the attendees had time to speak with other business leaders about their services and the challenges they faced. NJMEP set up booths around the office to showcase additional services beyond those included in the Pro-Action Education Network™ as well. This time was intended to give these businesses time to network and discover additional ways in which they can improve their operations, whether that is through a mutually collaborative arrangement with other manufacturers or investing in consulting and training services like the Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma Open Enrolment classes.
The Skill Boss was another highlight of the Signing Day’s networking event. This machine is used throughout the Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician apprenticeship program to provide students a worry-free way to learn about critical industrial processes. From computer-controlled systems to pneumatic controls and troubleshooting, Skill Boss is an innovative system designed to make the classroom learning portion of the apprenticeship more realistic and give students the opportunity to get hands-on with these critical systems.
Once the networking event winded down and people began to settle into one of NJMEP’s training rooms where apprenticeship classes take place, select individuals began their keynote speeches. Speakers included; Patricia Moran Ph. D., Director of Apprenticeship Programs at NJMEP, John W. Kennedy Ph. D., CEO of NJMEP, an apprentice currently enrolled in the Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician program, a representative from one of the companies sponsoring an apprentice, and Robert Asaro-Angelo, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Each of them offered a unique perspective and shared their insights about the apprenticeship program with the rest of the attendees.
Watch on Facebook Live: New Jersey Apprenticeship Signing Day 2019
The Pro-Action Education Network™ is a joint effort by everyone at NJMEP and their partners, however, Patricia Moran’s leadership has been essential in achieving its goals. Patricia is an educator at heart and has been involved with workforce development for decades. She plays a critical role within NJMEP and is instrumental in driving forward the apprenticeship program and the other pathways within the Pro-Action Education Network™.
Her speech began by explaining the reason why this event was taking place, which is to honor the commitment by the employers and apprentices involved with the first two Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician classes. Moran continues, focusing on how this Registered Apprenticeship program is essential in building the New Jersey economy, closing the manufacturing skills gap, and helping these students advance their careers within the company. Her excitement was impossible to contain, speaking from the heart about why this program is groundbreaking as well as beneficial for everyone involved. After a few more ‘thank you’s’, she gave John W. Kennedy the floor.
John W. Kennedy
John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP was the next speaker to address the crowd. After thanking the attendees, he made a point to mention the new partnerships and relationships that have come out of this monumental initiative. The CTE schools, the SETC, the companies that sponsored the apprentices and resource partners all play a critical role in addressing the manufacturing skills shortage. John W. Kennedy quickly turned the conversation toward different pathways in life. He emphasized how “we” [society], have been hooked on the idea of everyone needs to go to college in order to have a successful career. There was a considerable amount of emphasis on the importance of exploring additional career pathways that don’t require an individual burying themselves in student loan debt.
After spending time speaking about career pathways, John W. Kennedy mentioned why apprenticeships are near and dear to his heart. This was one of the paths he took in order to jumpstart his own career. With four college degrees of his own, he is the ideal case study for how an apprenticeship provides a massive step forward to help propel an education fueled journey through the professional world. John W. Kennedy wrapped up his speech by presenting the Certificate of Registration of Apprenticeship Program awarded by the US Department of Labor which establishes that NJMEP’s apprenticeship program is in accordance with the basic standards of apprenticeship established by the Secretary of Labor.
Annette Oswald, HR Director at Komline-Sanderson Engineering Corp. took to the front of the room to offer impressions from the employers’ perspective. She began by thanking NJMEP and the Department of Labor for allowing “something like this to happen”. Oswald expressed that her company has been waiting for action to be taken about bolstering New Jersey’s manufacturing workforce. The company hires highly skilled and technical individuals that require the right education in order to perform essential duties. They’ve struggled to find people to fill job openings but now they have NJMEP’s apprenticeship program to help with their employment challenges.
Komline-Sanderson isn’t alone in their struggle to find skilled workers. The skills gap is a serious concern for manufacturers worldwide and in nearly every vertical. Komline-Sanderson is in the position to excel by utilizing NJMEP’s apprenticeship program to upskill their current workforce. Oswald concluded her speech by outlining additional ways the apprenticeship program has helped their company, beyond offering the one on one training provided throughout the apprenticeship. These benefits include enhancing the relationship between the employer and employee, boosting employee morale, and building a sense of loyalty on the employees’ side as well as the employers’ side.
Next up was an apprentice currently enrolled in the program. Coming from Exothermic Molding Inc., this individual shared his own exceptional story about what brought him to the NJMEP apprentice program. A unique case, he started off going to a community college but soon after found himself in legal trouble. Forced to drop out and restart his life, he went looking for work in order to survive. He was given the opportunity to work for one of New Jersey’s manufacturers and the company never looked back. Proving himself to be an exemplary employ and incredible student within the apprenticeship program, he has reinvented himself and is working to become a leader in his role at Exothermic Molding Inc., as well as a leader in life.
After sharing his story, he began to focus on the apprenticeship program itself. His excitement was infectious as he explained what he gained from the classes and instruction. Exothermic was looking to him to be a leader but needed him to develop the right skills to take on the role. During the speech, he explained just one of the lessons he’s learned about leadership and how he was immediately able to apply this knowledge in his day-to-day work. Incredibly satisfied with the program so far, he’s excited to continue forward and soak up as much information as possible.
Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo was the last to speak. Passionate about apprentices, he shared a story about his first job in the workforce world was for the Laborer Union in Long Island, New York. The now Commissioner was tasked with passing apprenticeship language for New York City to give construction workers the opportunity to enroll in apprenticeship programs and advance their careers. He continued by discussing how offering this pathway does so much more than just benefit the individual taking part in an apprenticeship, it impacts their company and community.
Asaro-Angelo turned the focus to the economic crises that occurred in 2008. He explained that back then, people were seeking any job they could find to help keep them afloat during the recession. Now, employment is not as much of a worry but the individuals in those positions want a career, not just a job. He sees apprenticeships as a perfect way to turn a job into a fulfilling career, advancing skill sets in order to grow within a company. Employers that sponsor a student in an apprenticeship program invest in that individuals’ lives, their family’s lives, and in the economy.
After the speeches concluded, John W. Kennedy and Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo sat behind a table that faced the audience and began signing the proclamations. Each of the 10 companies was honored in the proclamations and was able to take the proclamation back to their facilities. The employees that are taking part in the apprenticeship programs were listed within the proclamations, solidifying their commitment to both that employer and the program. Following the signing, the employers and apprentices took photographs with the Commissioner and John W. Kennedy which marked the end of the event.
Cohort 1 and 2 in Attendance
Both apprenticeship classes were in attendance throughout the duration of Signing Day. The students began their day within class instruction until the event kicked off. After the event concluded, both classes went back to continue their classroom learning section of the apprenticeship requirement.
June 7th marked not only the first apprenticeship Signing Day, but it also was the start of the second apprenticeship class. NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™ Apprenticeship Program has already provided immediate results for companies involved but as it progresses forward, the benefits to all those involved will continue rising to the surface.
Be sure to follow along with NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™ progress and see how these companies and apprentices are benefiting right here on NJMEP.org. Follow NJMEP on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to learn about other exciting events and the services New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program has to offer.
To gain even more insight into NJMEP’s Pro-Action Education Network™ and explore all the incredible pathways available to parents, employers, and current manufacturing professionals, visit the Pro-Action Education Network™ page.
NJMEP would like to share their sincere appreciation with everyone that allowed the apprenticeship program to become a reality. This would have been impossible to achieve without the support from Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, the US DOL, the educational institutional partnerships, and the companies as well as the students involved with the Pro-Action Education Network™.