Supporting Northern and Central New Jersey Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Projects
From 2007 to 2009, the central and northern New Jersey regions were each awarded a $5 million, three-year U.S. Department of Labor Generation III Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant to implement regional innovations focused on key industries. The Bio-1 WIRED grant, focused in central New Jersey, was designed to retain and expand the number of high-quality jobs in central New Jersey’s bioscience sector by coordinating the efforts of the workforce development, education, economic development, and employer communities. The effort was coordinated by the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations and the Middlesex County Workforce Investment Board. Similarly, the Newark Alliance coordinated an effort in northern New Jersey focused on the transportation, health care, and technology industries.
The Heldrich Center, which supported the development of the proposals, provided ongoing technical assistance to the project leadership. The center served as a member of both the Executive Steering Committee and Bio-1’s Workforce Development Strategy Committee, and also provided consulting services to the Newark Alliance for the northern New Jersey WIRED effort. The Heldrich Center used labor market data, interviews with employers, and a survey of key employers to monitor the bioscience industry’s changing skill and workforce needs. The center also developed a brochure/poster depicting the structure of career paths in the bioscience industry.
In northern New Jersey, the Heldrich Center developed career awareness materials for the transportation industry and assisted in the development and implementation of the Transportation, Logistics, and Distribution Talent Network to bring workforce, education, and business leaders together to address industry skill needs. These efforts were designed to ensure that skill investments were aligned with changing technology and the organizational needs of bioscience and transportation, logistics, and distribution firms. In addition, the center worked with regional Workforce Investment Boards to develop a life science career campaign to inform parents, teachers, and students of job opportunities in the life sciences. Finally, the center developed a scorecard to monitor project outcomes.