ASSEMBLY LABOR COMMITTEE
"Testimony on the changing demographic make-up of New Jerseyís workforce"
Committee Room 9
March 6, 2003
MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE PRESENT:
Assemblywoman Arline M. Friscia, Chairwoman
Assemblyman Paul A. Sarlo, Vice-Chair
Asemblyman Neil M. Cohen
Assemblyman Robert J. Smith II
Assemblyman Guy R. Gregg
Assemblyman George F. Geist
|Gregory L. Williams||Beth Schroeder||Victoria R. Brogan|
|Office of Legislative Services||Assembly Majority||Assembly Republican|
|Committee Aide||Committee Aide||Committee Aide|
Meeting Recorded and
The Office of Legislative Services, Public Information Office,
Hearing Unit, State House Annex, PO 068, Trenton, New Jersey
ASSEMBLYWOMAN ARLINE M. FRISCIA (Chairwoman):
Good morning, and a special good morning to all you brave souls who made it
here from North Jersey.
We got on the Turnpike, and it was sleeting like crazy. The speed
limit was down to 45 by the time I hit exit 10 interchange. So we had to take
it easy, this morning, getting here. So Iím sorry Iím a little late.
We have a very important and interesting topic today on the
changing demographics of New Jerseyís workforce. And a lot of different sectors
are very interested in this question. And Iím very anxious, as Iím sure the entire
Committee is anxious today, to hear this from the people who have come.
So with that, I will ask Greg to do a roll call, and then we will begin
Welcome, Assemblyman Gregg.
MR. WILLIAMS (Committee Aide): Assemblyman Gregg, roll call.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREGG: Here.
MR. WILLIAMS: Assemblyman Geist.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Good morning, everyone. I am here.
MR. WILLIAMS: Assemblyman Smith.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Here.
MR. WILLIAMS: Assemblyman Egan is not here. Assemblyman
Cohen is not here.
ASSEMBLYMAN SARLO: Yes.
MR. WILLIAMS: And Chairwoman Friscia.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Here.
Before we start, we have a great deal of testimony today, so Iím
going to ask you if you have written testimony, please donít read it to us.
Submit it, and if you want, you can give us a synopsis of what it is you have
submitted. Otherwise, we will be here through dinner time.
Iíd like to start off with Gale Tenen Spak, from University Heights
NJIT in Newark.
G A L E T E N E N S P A K, Ph.D.: Since Iím the first--
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Push the red button on your
DR. TENEN SPAK: Now it is red.
Good morning, everyone. I have submitted written testimony, so
I will not read it all, but I will give you the gist of it.
I really am pleased to provide a higher education perspective on the
three requested subjects.
The first subject was where New Jerseyís growth areas and skill
demands are. Basically, Iím going to refer you to a new publication that, Iím
sure, each of you will be getting, which will be coming out on Saint Patrickís
Day, and it is our new Presidentís annual report. I think you can tell from itís
title, which is, "New Jerseyís Catalyst for Prosperity NJIT," that it is filled with
the information that is germane to the subject of growth areas and skill
So just culling, very briefly, from that report to answer this -- to give
my testimony on this subject -- I picked four different areas that NJIT believes,
from the higher education and technological perspective, will be critical growth
for our State.
The first is biomedicine, which is the integration of medicine and
biology for engineering, computing, and mathematics, for the purpose of
bringing about advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. I think you
all know what it is, but Iíd like to list the names of the current job titles in
which the skills to do this work in this area currently reside. They are
epidemiologists, bio-statisticians, bio-mathematicians, computational scientists,
environmental scientists, and bioMEMS experts.
Another area of growth that we have identified is defense and
homeland security technologies. We all know why we need to have
advancements, unfortunately, in that area. But the occupations -- the
professions today where strides will be made, from a technological point of
view, reside, for example, in physicists, chemical computing, transportation
engineers, biometricians, etc.
Another area is MEMs fabrication and nanotechnology. I wonít go
into detail what those are, but let me tell you the job titles and the skills, and
theyíre not going to be surprising. They are, of course, the electrical, chemical,
mechanical, and computer engineers and physicists. And these are the ones that
will make the new products that will drive important industries to New Jersey,
such as pharmaceuticals, food, agriculture, ceramics, electronics, specialty
And finally, Iíd like to add, as an example of what would be a
growth area for our State, innovative learning systems. And this is very germane
to the topic today, as well.
The development of innovative learning systems depends on the
skills of computer engineers, computer scientists, information scientists,
constructional designers, educators, and psychologists, because these are the jobs
that will be developing approaches to educating both our youth and our current
workforce so that each, in their own ways, can rapidly and broadly and fully
comprehend the knowledge necessary to advance the growth industries.
So thatís a smattering of what we consider to be the growth areas.
Your second question -- Iíll be briefer on that -- how to match the
stakeholders in these growth areas with opportunities for excellent careers. First
of all, from a higher education perspective, we believe that it is absolutely
crucial that all educational entities make sure that their educational programs
are sound. Thereís a whole definition of sound, but I think you know what that
means -- that they continue to serve a diverse population, because we -- unless
we enfranchise certain populations in our State, they will not be able to enter
this workforce. So we must make our -- serve a diverse population in every level
of education. And, finally, that these educational programs be available in
appropriate formats throughout an individualís lifetime, with the emphasis on
Another suggestion here -- how to make and advance people into
careers that lead to good employment and excellent results for our State-- Iíd
like to put on the table that suggestion to foster the development of community
informatic systems. These are also known as virtual communities. And this is
a wonderful way of matching the interest of people rapidly and completely.
Thatís now getting into a very popular use.
Already, we have some Web sites in the State that are trying to
address this. Iím thinking of Workforce New Jersey and the State Employment
and Training Commission. But these are good examples of beginning industryspecific
-- the kinds of industries that Iíve just spoken about -- portals to things
like search methods, rťsumť posting, jobs that are available, resources, all to
connect the doers, the aspirants to these careers.
And a short bit on your third question, how our, in this case, higher
education system can work with all stakeholders to help prepare students to take
advantage of career opportunities.
In this short testimony, the written part, I mention 17 discrete
professions just in these brief words. To ensure that the current occupants of
people in these professions can acquire the new skills to move these industries
forward, higher education must teach these skills, this knowledge, in formats
which involve face-to-face and online learning that these professionals will find
convenient, meaningful, and responsive. This is a job that higher education and
other educational entities have to be more responsive to.
To ensure that the future occupants of these professions, who are
our students today, are ready to take their place in these industries, higher
education must involve employers in the curriculum-building process. Things
change so fast, and we need to change, too.
And we must involve the community and labor unions in the
process of helping their members understand the importance of continuous
learning, giving their members the wherewithal and commitment to prevail in
these higher education challenges, in face of the myriad of other commitments
and the ups and downs of just normal life in living in New Jersey.
These are my suggestions. I thank you for the opportunity to
present them to you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you very much, Gale. It
sounds like NJIT is heading in the right direction.
DR. TENEN SPAK: We are trying.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Does anyone on the Committee
have a question or a comment?
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Do you feel that, in New Jersey, the
primary and secondary educational levels -- the curriculum properly prepares the
students to go into NJIT?
DR. TENEN SPAK: No, absolutely not.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Okay. I guess my question would be,
if you had a magic wand, how would you change the current curriculum
structure in primary and secondary education to accommodate the needs of
NJIT, who, in turn, is going to produce the workers of the future? And Iím not
just talking about the low-level jobs, but Iím talking about very good jobs,
advanced degrees. If you could just--
DR. TENEN SPAK: I would be happy to comment on that. First
of all, there is legislation proposed to integrate the technology as a core
curriculum requirement, and this is key to answer your question.
But in addition to that, there are enormous opportunities to bring
to the attention of the youngest children in our state -- what it means to be an
engineer, what it means to be a computer scientist. What is nanotechnology?
We donít even know in this room. Iím sure I wasnít the only one, alone, who
didnít know it until I was exposed to it.
And there are enormous opportunities to let our children have
experience, with hands-on acquaintance, with the industries that are doing this,
with the feel of accomplishment, with motivation to do it. The hands-on part--
Thereís also enormous opportunity to permit our children in the K-12 world to
do, what turns out later to be, research kinds of activities, questioning,
experimentation, experimental -- experiential learning. And these parts are not
in the curriculum. Thereís no room for that at times, and Iím sure youíre quite
aware of that aspect of it.
In addition, there are tools of technology, that I was referring to in
this brief testimony -- that would help our young children learn deeper, fuller,
more imaginatively -- that are not being tapped. Iím talking about, what use is
being put, in the classroom, of the worldís experts, that are available at a touch
of a keyboard, that can come in through streaming video into a classroom to
inspire kids to get them to really understand the possibilities out there? So I
would like to see more integration of the tools of technology into the everyday
learning, which means teaching the teachers and helping the kids understand
this, as well.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Can I just have one quick follow-up?
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Sure.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: There are a couple schools of thought
about primary and secondary education. And Iím certainly not an education
expert, but what Iíve found in talking to people is, a lot of people that teach
college level have some concerns about high school students graduating and not
having the basics that theyíve learned over the years, whether it be reading,
writing, math. And it seems like a lot of the schools -- maybe not to the extent
that youíd like or the format that you would like -- are specializing, and when
you specialize, whether it be in foreign languages or any other subject area,
thereís less time being spent teaching basic education.
For example, when I was at Rutgers College, my roommates were
economics majors and engineering majors. But I found that they had a very
difficult time composing a simple, lucid paragraph, when it comes to writing. So,
I mean, how do you balance between the essential basics and the specialty path
that you speak of, because thereís so much out there to learn? Thereís so many
different areas, unlike 20, 25 years ago, when I was in school.
DR. TENEN SPAK: Itís a difficult question, but I would also
suggest that some of the new tools of learning could help make it possible for
people to acquire information from different subjects faster. Our brains are the
same, but there are -- we learn -- each of us learn differently, and some of the
tools that are being developed now actually speak to the various ways that
people learn. And if you are presenting information in a way that resonates with
an individualís personalized way of learning, theyíll learn faster. So it is the
tools that are being developed that, sort of, push information on English, if
youíre going to go into science, in a way that clicks. Iím talking about learning
clicking. So if it clicks faster, because we got the information in an appropriate
way to a personís way of learning, then they can learn more, because the bottom
line is, in todayís world, thereís more to learn. And that is what youíre speaking
to. Now, not only is there more to learn, it changes every few years, how much
more you have to learn. And thatís the continuous learning piece.
So I would say, further work in some of these growth industries, the
innovative learning systems, will help with this issue. I donít have any other
easy answer, because you put your finger on it in how you cover everything that
needs to be covered. I say you can do it with some innovations that are out
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Assemblyman Sarlo.
ASSEMBLYMAN SARLO: Just a quick comment.
Actually, Iím a graduate of NJIT -- proud graduate -- engineering
graduate of NJIT, and Iím glad to see what NJIT has done over the years,
because I remember-- Not that I was there that long ago, but when I was in
school there, both for my Bachelorís and Masterís, there was a lot more theory,
lot more formula and rationale, how to get to the problem.
But I just went back recently and spoke to a class about a specific
project, and I see, in my time that I spent there, theyíre dealing with not only
the formula and theory, but theyíre actually putting hands-on experience,
whether itís out in the field or on the board or on a computer, theyíre actually
seeing, "If I become a civil engineer, this is what I actually will physically be
doing," not just knowing the theories behind how-- And I think thatís
And from the time I was there to today, Iím glad to see NJIT has
really made that transition of combining the theory and the rationale to the
actual hands-on experience. I commend NJIT on this.
DR. TENEN SPAK: And thatís an example of what I was trying
to say before. That helps. Thatís a style of learning thatís been advanced by
psychologists that says this helps the learning to happen faster, deeper, more,
and it could be done at the K-12 world, as well.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Anyone else? (no response)
Well, thank you very much for coming, Gale. It was a pleasure to
have you here.
DR. TENEN SPAK: My pleasure.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Next, Iíd like Barrie Peterson,
from Seton Hall Institute on Work.
And you have Burt--
Barrie, itís good to have you here.
B A R R I E P E T E R S O N: Thank you.
The Institute on Work was started in 1997 under the direction of
Ray Bramucci, a person Iím sure many of you know. We are oriented towards
ethics in the workplace, and creating opportunity and progression and economic
vitality for everyone. We are nonpartisan, and balance research with technical
assistance to, especially, local nonprofit and faith-based groups.
Our current projects include helping nonprofits create improved
temp-to-perm placement services. And weíre now currently, with the Prudential
grant, working with the Institute for Social Justice and the Regional Business
Partnership to conduct a survey of Newark employers -- an on-the-ground
survey to see what they need, how they access their talent, and are the current
employees residents of Newark, or of what area. So we hope to have that
completed in a month or two.
That, incidentally, is something I wish more of our workforce
investment boards were able to do, to particularize the employersí demand for
talent in each locale. The BLS statistics are fine, but theyíre generally too
aggregated and too distant.
Our third project, at present, is to work with a health care union
and some hospitals, and Seton Hall Universityís nursing graduate program, to
come up with some solutions for the nursing shortage. And we have some very
creative collaborations starting there.
For your consideration today, the two most significant trends that
we see are in terms of ethnic change of our workforce and in terms of age
change. And related to this is the shift to contingent, nonbenefited employment.
The increase of immigration, whether documented or not, continues
to be felt. In fact, our population would be decreasing in New Jersey if it wasnít
for immigration. Thatís real clear from the new census figures.
This has several implications. We need increased need for ESL and
literacy, especially delivered in creative, forceful, community-based or faithbased
settings, with everyone welcomed at little or no expense. I think we ought
to have that as a goal. If weíre going to welcome immigrants and bring them
into our society to become productive, we need to equip them.
Secondly, many immigrants come with strong family ties,
outstanding skills, and a great desire to succeed. Thus, their self-employment
and entrepreneurial skills should be honored, and the public policies and the
nonprofit and faith-based groups continue to aid them in expressing this positive
An example is the work of Burt Sutker of Edison, who is
accompanying me today and will say a few words, who has aided hundreds of
people from many counties -- countries with microenterprise development via
the Jewish Family and Vocational Services, Elijahís Promise in New Brunswick,
and the International Institute of Jersey City, and the Princeton Library.
So, Burt, do you want to just say a couple of words about how
youíre able to help new immigrants become self-employed?
B U R T S U T K E R: Thank you for allowing me to be here. If I appear just
a tad nervous, this is the first time Iíve had the opportunity of speaking in front
of a legislative committee.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Press your button. (referring to PA
MR. SUTKER: Excuse me?
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Press your button.
MR. SUTKER: I need to press my button.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Thank you.
MR. SUTKER: Iím Burt Sutker, as Barrie has said, and Iím here
For the last four or five years, Iíve been involved with
microenterprise and self-employment as an alternate pathway to independence
for the refugee, for the asylee, for the inner city individual. Iíve worked with
groups of people from Liberia, Vietnam, various Hispanic countries, Russians,
Haitians, Bangladeshis. And in working with these individuals, you find that
theyíre absolutely wonderful people who only want an opportunity to their own
little piece of the American dream.
They come with all sorts of baggage. They come with different
economic and cultural systems. They come with no knowledge of how business
is conducted, according to law in New Jersey and in the country. They come
with very limited levels of English competency, but theyíre wonderful people.
They are vocationally disadvantaged, not unlike many of the individuals in our
And over the last four or five years, Iíve helped these individuals
start hair salons, glazing businesses, import businesses, restaurant and food
service businesses, ethnic clothing, crafts and toys. Iíve even worked with a
street corner perfumer, helped people develop aroma therapy candle business,
carpentry businesses, cleaning businesses, lawn care, interior decorating,
bookkeeping, package delivery, and alike. These people do have a desire to
succeed, and all theyíre looking for is a little bit of help.
Prior to doing this, I spent 40 years with New Jersey companies. Iím
technically trained. I even spent a year and a half at the New Jersey
Manufacturing Extension program at NJIT, but I think I found my passion in
helping those who need help achieve their little piece of the American dream
through microenterprise and self-employment.
MR. PETERSON: Thank you.
Weíre engaging Burt to work with us and the small business
development centers around the state where Seton Hall and the SBDCs will be
providing nonprofits and faith-based and public groups with a, kind of,
mechanism to find out which of the people coming to them are good candidates
for self-employment. A lot of people have dreams, but youíve got to have the
right character set and resources to move ahead. So weíre going to try to put
together a service between Seton Hall and the SBDCs to discern who ought to
move in that direction. And then if they are that person -- with the resources for
We also, of course, work with the Entrepreneurial Training Institute
of the New Jersey EDA to help nonprofits get through business plan writing, and
weíve had about 30 folks start and about 20 graduate. And several of them
have multi-hundred thousand dollar loans to finance their start-up businesses
around the state. And about half of those are secular, and half of them are
nonprofit or faith-based. So weíre happy to be partners. And we see that as our
role at Seton Hall -- is to bring together different groups for the common good
and to try to break down some of these turf issues.
Moving on, the other immigrants, besides the ones that Burt is
talking about, are, however, being exploited horribly in many of our supposedly
finer communities as day laborers, or by bottom-feeding temp agencies in urban
Comfortable New Jerseyans-- We comfortable New Jerseyans need
to acknowledge that there are restaurant meals, landscaping, home improvement
expenses, convenience store and gas prices, nanny costs, and building cleaning
services -- are all cheaper, based on the backs of several hundred thousand
undocumented workers in this state. If we cannot look at this reality -- that
weíre all benefiting from their hard work and low pay -- then, really, weíre
saying that we want something for nothing.
If you public officials take no action on this situation, weíre really
saying that weíre going to worship the Darwinian jungle economy, and weíre
abdicating our moral, let alone legislative, responsibilities.
New York, for example, has stepped up penalties for an employer
for not paying minimum wages or taxes. Why canít New Jersey? Shouldnít we
be trying to enhance revenue to have the employers, who are supposed to be
paying taxes, actually pay those taxes? This is not a matter of tax increase, this
is a matter of having a level playing field.
Further, these newcomer neighbors pay taxes exceeding their limited
use of services. Indeed, since half of the undocumented workers in the state
seem to be on the books, we are saving Social Security for the rest of us by their
contributions for which they cannot benefit.
Finally, we harass these essential workers, who are crowded into
small, unsafe apartments and forced to wait on the street for someone in a
pickup truck to come by, someone who, often, wonít give their name or phone
or address. So thereís little recourse for unpaid wages. Have we no shame?
Does the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty mean nothing?
In Bergen County weíve begun, again, an effort to understand these
problems and create win-win-win solutions. In Rockland County, New York,
just north of us, the prosecutors have busted some of these exploiters for not
paying taxes. They claim they have no employees. Well, they do, and theyíre
having to be responsible now.
Can our Attorney General inspire similar actions here in New
Jersey? Can this Committee act on the bill that Assemblyman Geist introduced
a couple of years ago, which I think is now AB 3262, to address some of the
abuses uncovered by the State Commission of Investigation three years ago?
Itís time for action. Enough talk. Or is it okay in New Jersey for certain
employers not to pay taxes or wages? If I ran a legitimate construction business
or restaurant, Iíd be hopping mad that some low-life down the street was
undercutting me with impunity.
Then there are the abuses of certain temp agencies, also cited by the
SCI report. For example, requiring a worker to report at 6 a.m., but not starting
the clock until 10 a.m., after paying the $5 for a ride in an uninspected, coyote
driven van to the job site and paying $5 to rent a safety helmet--
In California, there was a several-hundred million dollar classaction
suit against Labor Ready for all these unpaid wages between 6 a.m. and
10 a.m. Also, several states have found this firm guilty of fraud in miscoding
the jobs, claiming theyíre all secretaries, not asbestos removers, so therefore, you
get a lower workersí comp tax. So several states have found Labor Ready in
contempt and have recouped millions of dollars of unpaid workersí comp and
Has New Jersey investigated this corporate practice in the two
dozen offices this outfit has here, or is Labor Ready still refusing to show the
books -- last report I got?
The Arizona attorney general and laws of Texas, Florida, Georgia
ban Labor Readyís on-site check-cashing machines, another abusive practice.
There are other areas where the extension of the temp industry
beyond their legitimate purpose is cutting into our employment relations. The
Asbury Park Press has many stringers. They all work full-time, Iím told.
However, theyíre called independent contractors. Merrill Lynch has a large
mailing site in Piscataway -- largest mailing site in the country. Bus loads of
Dominican women come in from the Bronx every night, and there are charges
that there are very nasty things happening to these women late at night.
McCarter & English in Newark -- I had a report a year or two ago -- has many
full-time legal aides who are called independent contractors or who are temps
there for a long time. These all represent possible revenue losses for the State
of New Jersey.
The California legislature, moving into another industry, has passed
a law banning temp agencies from the whole construction field, for neither the
agencies nor the contractor would take responsibility for OSHA, and therefore
OSHA is inoperable when you have an intermediary. The temp industry crowed
afterwards about successfully lobbying the governor to veto the bill. Rhode
Island mandates inspections of vans carrying temps, and prohibits fees for a
temp to get to the job site. Too bad Maine hadnít passed that law before that
van crashed into the water last summer and killed 15 temp workers.
Maybe if our Consumer Affairs Division had more resources to
oversee temp agencies, to educate both the workers and the employers of the
problems in the law, things could start improving. This, the Geist bill, begins
to address. Also, how can our Consumer Affairs Office continue to register
agencies whose main practice, now, has nothing to do with temporary work, but
happily supplies the big pharmaceuticals with perma-temps who are there for
I have a proposal to fund this upgrade of service, for the Consumer
Affairs Office, and bring in revenues for our stricken State. How about a 5
percent excise tax on temp industry payrolls, which is about $2.5 billion a year,
annually, in this state? This puts a mild retardation on further growth of an
industry, which has mushroomed by helping employers "externalize their costs."
Thatís the way the business school folks talk about it. The employers are
externalizing costs onto us. For example, the $300 million, I believe it is, that
we steal from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund annually to bail out the
uncompensated health-care costs of hospitals, which is driven higher every year
by the stripping out of health insurance for more workers. Only 7 percent of
temps, according the BLS, receive health insurance. This means that 3 million
temps in this country make up a chunk of the 41 million Americans who have
no health insurance.
The Institute on Work is a part of a Ford and Rockefeller-supported
national network, which is close to a partnership with a large national high-road
temp agency. We hope to secure foundation support for a pilot project to redo
the business model of the industry to put health insurance back into the picture.
Hopefully, as legislators, you will be supportive and not wait,
hoping Washington will fix this growing national health-care crisis. Iím not
talking about solutions looking for a problem here. Iíll give a specific example
of how this health insurance theft goes, right here.
Smithkline Beecham has 1,100 employees who are suing for the
health and pension benefits from the day they started working there as "temps,"
often several years before they were converted to direct Smithkline Beecham
employees. The expert opinion that Professor Paula Alexander, of the Seton
Hall Business School, and I offered last month, after reviewing about a two-inch
pile of documents, concluded that Smithkline was the common-law employer
and used various agencies as payroll vehicles. Itís no secret, many other New
Jersey firms, some considered gold chip ones, have similar practices, though
some have started, like Smithkline, to clean it up.
It is schemes like this -- the first oppressing the bottom of the labor
market, whether immigrants or modestly situated natives; and the second,
creating a shell game in corporate America -- which have largely eliminated the
internal labor market. This made it possible, at one point, for somebody to
start out in the mail room and literally, with loyalty and hard work, work their
way up the Horatio Alger myth -- or dream. Now, itís a myth, because there is
hardly any internal labor market in the employers any more. There are rings of
contingent workers, which are barriers to getting into the real jobs of benefits.
We must focus on the quality of jobs, not the sheer number of jobs.
The New Jersey Department of Labor should, therefore, include a selfsufficiency
standard in its practices, giving employers with decent jobs help,
instead of trying to fit everyone into a job, any job. An indication of how the
growth of contingent work has harmed us all is seen in Princeton University
economist Alan Kruegerís study. He shows a direct correlation between high
penetration of the temp industry in the state to declining pay for everyone in
Letís see-- We have rung our hands for over 15 years here in New
Jersey about the loss of New Jerseyís manufacturing jobs. Those jobs with easy
access, regardless of your education level or even language, good pay, benefits,
often unionized, and stable jobs. Those good jobs that paid $16, $18, $20 an
hour and had a future, and you could build a life on, and, as my mentor Ray
Bramucci says, become a citizen based on that kind of job, and contribute.
Weíve rung our hands, because those jobs have gone away. But
have they really gone away? Several national studies show that half of the
apparent loss of manufacturing jobs really didnít go away. They were degraded
into temp jobs, or as the agencies call it, light industrial. Another reason to slow
the illegitimate growth of the temp industry, a growth which leeches off the
public workers sucked into it, and undermines public policy.
Now I want to move to talking about the age factor of changing
demographics. One observation: the labor market participation rate for those
of us over 55 is zooming, while other age segments see fewer people working.
Yes, better health is a factor, but recently, economic necessity shouts out. The
corporate crime wave has, after all, trashed the retirement assets of so many of
these victims, that they are postponing retirement, while others are returning to
work, retiring from retirement. And when this happens, we have some real
crunches that occur.
I was at the Bergen One-Stop holiday party in December, and I was
confronted with a scary sight. The senior employment expert, Bob Higgins --
some of you may know him -- a mild-mannered gentlemen -- Iíve known him
for 10 years -- had smoke coming out of his ears. He was so upset. He wasnít
even at the party. He was in his office, where I found him. He was fuming,
because he, the day before, had been trying in vain to implement the WARN
Act. This is a Federal law, which says an employer must give notice and give
access to employment officials when there are layoffs of 50 or more. He was
trying to implement that law the day before and was not having success.
He had been trying to talk with Verizon, and Verizon blocked him
at every turn. "No," the company claimed, "We donít really have 50 being laid
off. We have 49 over here, 48 over here, 47 over there." So the WARN Act
didnít apply. I said, "Did you get Al Kroll on the phone to talk sense into
them?" He said, "Yes, but to no avail."
It gets worse. Verizon wouldnít even let the Department of Labor
officials on their grounds to try to get information to the workers on their last
day. Finally, the IBEW union worked it out for Bob to talk with some of the
workers at their union hall. Even from a business model, I canít understand
why youíd do this. I mean, this is a way to demoralize the surviving workers.
Iím switching my phone service in protest, incidentally. Hopefully,
Commissioner Kroll has gotten some response since this deplorable incident.
This affects, largely, older people, so the way we lay off people needs to be
looked at, and our responsibilities intensified.
At Seton Hall, weíre planning some extra services to help this new
demographic of older workers having to work longer. And with the Lily
Endowment grant, weíre stepping up our services for our alums.
One thought: Cross-cultural skills are needed, because the younger
workers tend to be people of color, different language, different style. So us
older workers are going to need to learn how to work with them if weíre going
to stay in longer.
One final comment. On January 16, several hundred of the leading
workforce experts from business, State, and county government, labor nonprofits,
and academia gathered at Rutgers. We were at the Douglas -- there.
The Governor and four commissioners and corporate leaders, plus Rutgers and
AFL-CIO leaders spoke a common mantra: training and skill development.
Many of you were there, remember. That was the theme for the day. It was
said that these would not only raise a personís pay, but attract or keep
employers in the state --- more training, more skill development.
First, I question this take. Many highly trained people are stuck in
pay and stripped in benefits due to some of the employersí schemes that I have
described. More training is not going to help those folks stuck in permatemping.
Also, New Jersey has about the most educated workforce in the
country to serve employers. So are we going to get an advantage by having an
even more educated workers so the companies will stay in New Jersey?
The biggest disconnect, however, is that even if we accept the
Governorís claim that higher skills mean more pay and more employers in New
Jersey -- even if we accept that claim, we still have no consumer report card on
training providers, after nearly five years since the Workforce Investment Act
So weíre going to stress training, but, yet, we donít know whether
the training providers -- what they do and the quality of their outcome. It seems
to me there is a disconnect here.
Now, I donít have a doctorate in economics or public policy from
Rutgers, but I do have some common sense. I do know that Henry Plotkin and
the Heldrich Center have a tough job here in producing this consumer report
card. And he says they hope to have it out by July. I would support anything
that we can do to help get that in place.
As we are learning, it was easy for the conservatives in Washington
to insist on choice, with the vouchers, to supposedly pick the best training
school -- and that market would, somehow, make for better products. That was
easy to mandate, choice. But to generate the information, upon which efficient
consumer choice must be made, as we have found here in New Jersey, is much
harder. And until that is completed, choice remains an ideological sham.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you, Barrie.
Any questions? (no response)
You touched on something that we have had a discussion on in the
past, and thatís the temp agencies. And hopefully, at some point in the future,
we can zero in on that. Weíll be in touch.
Thank you, Barrie and Burt, for coming.
MR. PETERSON: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Jeff Stoller and Libby Vinson
J E F F R E Y S T O L L E R: Thank you very much, Madam Chair, for this
opportunity to come in and speak to you.
Libby Vinson is our Assistant Vice President for Education Issues.
And I, of course, work with the labor and employment side, and we have a lot
that overlap on this topic.
I just wanted to thank you and the Committee for calling attention
to the skills training issue. Itís something that, I know, Labor Commissioner
Kroll has been working on to really stress as one of his top priorities. And itís
great to see the Legislature stepping up, as well, to call attention to this
situation, which we do regard as a crisis.
We know itís hard to believe, in this kind of economic slowdown,
that there could be vacancies with employers that are going unfilled, but the
reality that we are reminded of, week in and week out, is that -- while, when a
vacancy becomes available, itís usually quite easy for employers in New Jersey
to generate applications and calls and rťsumťs -- that there still can often be a
problem finding people who are coming in with the appropriate skills to do that
job and be able to get that employment.
And one of the things that has certainly been a trend, that is clear
to us, is that even what we used to think of, even just a few years ago, as the
entry-level jobs or even the "unskilled jobs" now require higher levels of skill --
in terms of computer knowledge, of literacy in general -- technical skills that you
wouldnít have imagined, even a brief time ago.
One of the bits of information that we get each year is that -- we
survey our full membership, which is now 19,000 companies, and we have a
percentage responding each year to our business outlook survey-- One of the
questions we ask year in and year out is, what are your biggest business
problems? And just two years ago, in 2001, difficulty finding skilled labor came
in third behind health-care costs and property taxes, which means it was a huge,
huge issue. Seventy-three percent of our employers, at that time, were having
trouble finding skilled labor, and 62 percent were having trouble finding
professional and technical skilled workers.
And the thing that struck us is, even a year later, in this most recent
survey that we released at the end of December of 2002, showed that even with
the continuing slowdown, 67 percent of our employers continue to report having
trouble finding skilled labor. And it really seems to us that this is something
that we all need to continue working on, because when we look at the big
picture, what we consider New Jerseyís key economic competitive advantage,
versus other states, is our workforce. You can find other places where you can
have cheaper housing, you can find other places in the country with lower energy
rates or things like that, but the thing that has always trumped those concerns,
in our minds, is the fact that New Jersey really has an unprecedented
concentration of skilled workers at all levels -- skilled trades, skilled preparation,
great educational resources -- as you know, Madam Chair. And weíre afraid that
if we lose that, if we continue to see this gap growing between what New Jersey
employers can find, in terms of filling those vacancies, we are losing not just key
workers and key opportunities, we really are missing the boat on one of the key
economic development tools that we have for New Jersey, one of our main
And I think one of the things that we are concerned about is -- as
we reach out to the schools, the parents, the community -- I think both the
business community and organized labor have a message to convey, which is
that, just as we heard, thereís going to be opportunities through NJIT for some
of the high school areas. But many of our employers believe there are great
opportunities that are being missed, in terms of a wide variety of areas that,
maybe, require something less than a four-year college degree, but can lead to
the high-skilled jobs, the high-wage jobs, the good-benefit jobs that weíre all
trying to create and move people into.
Even manufacturing, for all of its tough times, we find one of the
latest surveys showed that average salaries in manufacturing still are 22 percent
above other sectors. Thereís really a reason to look at the fact that employers
are saying, "Weíre not able to fill some of these technical jobs." And I believe,
if we will be hearing later from AFL-CIO-- I think one of the things they report
is apprenticeships for very promising, high-skilled, lucrative professions are also
having a hard time getting the new blood in and getting people to fill those
opportunities. So, clearly, this is a situation we want to respond to.
And just briefly, two of the things that we have been involved in as
an Association, in reaching out in partnership, as Libby will discuss in a minute,
with other groups-- We are thinking that thereís two things we really must do.
One is to have a clear strategy, in terms of addressing the skills gap, and looking
ahead to where the growth is going to happen.
We are working with the State Employment and Training
Commission. I know Dana Egreczky, whoís here from the New Jersey
Chamber, is also working with Henry Plotkin and that group. And very much,
as we heard from NJIT, there are clearly identifiable industries that we believe
represent the best bets for the future, whether itís finance, logistics,
infrastructure, the needs that are going to continue to grow in health care, and,
yes, even manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
The thing thatís interesting about the project that SETC is
undertaking is, while they are certainly looking at those high-level, high-skilled
technical and scientific jobs, the engineering jobs and so forth, they are realizing
that, for each of those growth industries, there are going to be opportunities at
all levels of skills. And thereís going to be important need for entry-level skills,
for mid-level skills in support roles for any of those industries. So I think it
would be misleading to think that the only people in New Jersey who will have
opportunities in the future are people with a doctorate in a technical degree --
in a technical area, rather.
So, again, I think we can learn from the experience that other states,
and even over in Europe, have found out: That if we can identify the kind of
key skill clusters that are going to be in demand, that even as specific job
opportunities change back and forth, we will be much more responsive, much
more able to move our students and our experienced workers to where the new
opportunities are unfolding. And the pace of those opportunities is moving in
a very rapid clip, as you know.
And the second and final point Iíd make is the importance of
restoring the funding that we have put forward, as employers and employees
here in New Jersey, for the workforce development partnership, specifically the
customized training program. It was just 10 years ago -- and the OLS staff
knows well, and other members of the Committee, because they were there in
1992. Both NJBIA and the AFL-CIO worked together to expand the customized
training program that was then a $2 million program, and voluntarily agreed to
set aside some of the money that would traditionally have gone to the
Unemployment Insurance Fund, and dedicate those moneys to customized
training. And they were targeted specifically for higher-wage salaries, to make
sure that we were training people for jobs that would be in demand, that would
have very close to 100 percent placement. You would be training people for
jobs that would be there, ready to start.
And in the years that have gone by, it has not just been to provide
matching grants that help us prepare workers to stay on the job and deal with
new technology, but also it has been expanded to address some of the areas that
you just heard, from Barrie Peterson, are increasingly important -- funds to
provide English as a Second Language training, and the like.
So we believe this has been a great program. Weíve retrained
hundreds of thousands of New Jersey workers. Weíve leveraged millions and
millions of dollars in matching grants from employers who put their own money
on the table to make sure that these programs operate.
But the threat -- and you can see it from the information I just
received this morning, about the pending transfers from these related programs --
is really quite disheartening, because we believe this money would get good bang
for our buck. These moneys really are helping people move into the growth
areas. And if we continue to divert that money for various purposes, no matter
how worthwhile, I think weíre really undercutting a great source of revenue from
the private sector, from the employees that have put money -- where the State
hadnít put money -- back in 1992.
To that extent, we have partnered with the New Jersey Council of
Colleges. We have created, at our own expense, a brochure promoting the
customized training program, directing people to the resources in each county
where they can plug into that great program.
And I would simply end by asking that the Committee keep an eye
on that program as we go ahead into the budget session, because those are
dollars that really are helping people move towards those growth industries, into
those new jobs that we are creating. And we think it would be a tragedy to
undermine that movement with money that the public has provided on its own,
With that, I just wanted to briefly hand it over to Libby, to talk to
you about that final point of the focus of this hearing, which is, how do we
reach out in partnership to the community and make sure things are moving in
E L I Z A B E T H V I N S O N: Thanks, Jeff.
It is a critical component to look at, also, primary and secondary
education, as how they prepare students for the workforce, whether they go
directly to workforce or to a community college or on to higher ed.
And as Jeff had mentioned, the demand for technical skills, on all
job levels, is escalating. But despite these numbers that Jeff had mentioned, and
Iíll also refer to a few, research is showing that students are opting out of math
and science and technology courses early on in high school. Luckily, the
Legislature and also the Department of Education is focused on a technology
education and computer literacy standards.
I just want to note, and thank, Assemblyman Geist for all of his
work in this area. He was the sponsor of a piece of legislation that would enact
technology education standards.
And why this is so important is, technology is not just computers,
itís essential to sparking interest in math and science careers by showing how
those are applied in the real world. Itís an applied science, really. And it shows
that if students arenít engaged early on, they will not be majoring or looking at
those fields later on in college. And we had heard from NJIT, and that seems
to be the case.
One of the things that we now need to do is look at certification for
teachers, ensuring that the teachers are trained in this area. And New Jersey,
since 1985, has been giving technology educators an industrial arts certificate,
even though theyíre no longer trained in industrial arts. Thatís certainly
something that we need to deal with here in the State. It keeps, sort of,
technology where -- at a lower level than it should be, and it puts us out of line
with our neighboring states. So Iím hopeful that that will move forward, as we
have been successful in moving forward with the tech ed standards.
Another concern for us is looking at advanced degrees in engineering
here in New Jersey. In New Jersey, we have about 2 percent of the engineering
graduates. Thatís what we contribute here in New Jersey. And at the national
level, fewer than 9 percent of Ph.D.s were awarded to engineering graduates, and
most of those were to foreign nationals that came here to study and left -- also
looking at the need to bring in H1B Visas to bring people here shows that we
need to do a better job of training those people here.
One of the problems is New Jersey also suffers from an outmigration
of brain-drain. Part of itís, obviously, geography. Weíre a small
state. A student wants to go to college -- two hours, youíre out of the state. But
what some of our neighboring states have done is provided incentives to
students -- to stay here in New Jersey and go to school. Now, certainly, under
the current budget constraints, thatís probably not an option. But Iíll just make
you aware that there is a bill, that Assemblymen Doria and DiGaetano have
introduced, that would create a loan redemption program for students that
would major in math, science, technology fields, granted that they stay here and
seek employment in the state.
Research shows that if you go to a school, you tend to stay and
work in the area in which you go to college, so we should look -- try to keep the
best and the brightest here in New Jersey.
Internships are another great way to train and attract future
employees. And weíre very pleased that the Governorís announced the senior
option program, which would allow seniors that have passed the high school
graduation requirements to take a senior option, working either in a community
center or an internship with employers. And weíre going to be working with our
membership to get partnered with our local school districts. Itís a terrific way to
expose students to the world of work.
And, also, what we hope is that, on the teacher training side, that
there -- more professional development is in this area, so they understand what
happens in the place of -- the workplace and the trends and the growth areas.
Itís just as important for them to understand, as it is for the students, or even
And, finally, literacy. The Governor, of course-- This is one of his
main issues and near and dear to his heart. Currently, in New Jersey, there are
1.4 million adults in New Jersey that are functionally illiterate. And the U.S.
Department of Labor shows that these costs cause -- these illiteracy costs -- U.S.
businesses about $225 billion a year in lost productivity.
The National Association of Manufacturers, in 2001, did a study
on this issue, and 32 percent of their members noted poor reading and writing
skills as a serious problem. And nearly half reported serious shortfalls in basic
written language and comprehension skills.
So we look at advanced math and science, and promoting that. Itís
also very important that we look at the basic skills. And the Governor, of
course, has put this at the top of his agenda. But BIA is working with the New
Jersey Reading Association to help create literacy benchmarks, enhance teacher
training in this area, professional development, so on and so forth. This is a key
And, really, forums such as this, getting businesses and colleges and
the labor unions together to talk about this, really, will move us in the right
direction. I think the Department and the Legislature has been more receptive
to bringing the business community into discussions such as this -- as education.
A lot of times, itís been fiefdoms. And I think now that weíre coming together,
weíre seeing how we can move the state forward and how important this issue
So I thank you very much for providing this forum.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you both for your
Are there any questions from the Committee?
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Thank you, Chairwoman.
First of all, thank you for your testimony. Thank you for the
reference to the bill. Thank you for helping to put it on the Governorís desk.
On todayís topic, you reference a bill -- and I just learned from
Assemblyman Ahearn, who I believe has a companion bill -- that today, in the
Committee, is the legislation to eliminate the industrial arts endorsement
MS. VINSON: Right. That bill, actually, I heard, probably will
not be heard today. The State Board has been dealing with this issue for some
time. So I think there are some issues that need to be worked, and I heard that
it is not going to be heard today.
But itís something that, certainly, needs to be addressed, because,
like I said, since 1985, New Jersey colleges and universities have not been
training industrial arts teachers. Yet theyíll go through the technology education
program, and they keep -- they receive the industrial arts--
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: I agree. We have moved from the
industrial revolution to the technological revolution.
I thank you.
Chairwoman, Jeffrey Stoller, as always, enlightens this Committee
and references the Governorís proposed budget.
And, Jeff, I think that those in attendance and those on this
Committee have the right to know more about, what you reference as some
concerns about, diversions seem inconsistent with the objectives of the
Chairwomanís forum today. Am I correct there are some diversions within the
MR. STOLLER: Well, I must say I just saw this when I first arrived
at the Committee. I was able to get, from the OLS staff, a summary of what
appear to be major transfers of money that would be affecting everything from
the unemployment fund, but more specifically, the Workforce Development
Partnership Fund, to the tune of $62 million. Again, this is the first Iím seeing
these numbers. But I would just highlight them, because they do tie in.
This is money that, we believe, originally became available back in
í92, during -- í91, í92, during that recession, because the State came to the
private sector and to organized labor and said, "Weíve got a great program. You
know we donít have the resources." And thatís when we made this, really,
revolutionary step of saying, "This program is so good. Our employers and our
unions feel so strongly that this customized training program, at the $2 million
level, has such value that we will agree to have some of that money put
forward." And it just is sad to see that that money, over the past 10 years, in
smaller amounts, has often been diverted. And, again, I canít vouch for the
final figures here, but if itís $62 million, I donít know that the program itself is
generating much more than that.
Again, I would think itís a shame, because Iím sure there are other
worthy, urgent priorities for the State. But Iím just saying, when you take the
money out of the customized training area, youíre talking about dollars that just
have tremendous impact, because, again, a customized training situation, most
frequently -- especially the employer-based training that weíre talking about --
you are training the worker whoís there, or a new person coming in, or a
displaced worker. Youíre training them for a specific opportunity, in most cases.
There are very few other programs I can think of where you can get 100 percent
placement for your training dollar.
So, again, weíre just saying we understand everyoneís sacrificing
across the board. We would just say this is a program that generates money
from the State. It doesnít cost money from the State. And if we divert this off
for other purposes, I just think weíre going to have a net loss, in terms of the real
impact on workers.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Through the Chair, this month you
begin your forums. I think you have one March 28, where BIA goes throughout
the State. Could you, through the Chair and to this Committee, provide your
synopsis relative to these proposed -- and reallocations of resources?
Today, I see the Unemployment Compensation Fund, Workforce
Development Partnership Fund, State Disabilities Benefits Fund, Stock
Workersí Compensation Security Fund, Second Injury Fund -- these are funds
that may be impacted by the proposed budget. And through the Chair, if you
could let us know your thoughts sooner than later so we can, perhaps, be
MR. STOLLER: Weíll certainly take this back this morning.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Chairwoman, I worked on, as you
know, workforce development legislation. And, through the Chair, if that may
be appropriate, if the Committee could learn more about these--
And I thank the Chairwoman.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you.
Thank you, both.
Any other questions? (no response)
MR. STOLLER: Thank you, Madam Chair.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Thanks, Jeff.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Mike Egenton and Dana
Egreczky, from New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce.
M I C H A E L E G E N T O N: Thank you, Madam Chairwoman,
Committee members. I appreciate the time.
I thought I would, actually, just introduce Dana here. I know
many of you are familiar with my day-to-day activities. And I thought instead
of listening to my wisdom, I thought I would bring the Chamberís resident
expert, in-house, on workforce development and give you folks an update on the
great stuff that Dana Egreczky and the Business Coalition for Educational
Excellence is working on.
So with that, Dana.
D A N A E G R E C Z K Y: Thanks, Mike.
This morning, Iím going to direct my comments to the beginning of
the pipeline in workforce development, the K-12 school system, because thatís
where a lot of our work is centered. And youíll notice that my testimony comes
with a lot of pictures, because I was a teacher for 16 years, and I know pictures
help. So Iíll walk you through a few of the things that the pictures tell you.
As Michael mentioned, we do do an awful lot of work in K-12
education and other workforce issues. Our K-12 efforts are done under the
banner of the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence, so youíll see that
throughout the testimony.
About 15 months ago, we convened a series of focus groups, and
we asked businesses what entry level workers were missing, and we came out
with a number of key findings. We had 100 business people attend our focus
groups, and Iíd like to share the findings with you. But Iíd also like to share
with you what weíre doing about it, what the Chamber has decided to do about
Key Finding One: Without fail, the business people told us that no
matter how well-prepared the schools thought the students were, no matter how
smart the students thought they were, they could not apply their knowledge.
The application of knowledge to stuff in the real world was just not happening.
And youíve all probably run into this. The fast food server who canít make
change of a dollar, things like that. And the business community feels that the
inability to apply learning to the real world was a significant deficit.
What weíve decided to do, and we worked very hard to convince
the Department of Education -- and we worked with all the leading business and
education associations to make this happen-- We are integrating, into the
Stateís K-12 assessment system, a performance-based component. That is, not
only will students be taking the standardized tests in science and math and in
language arts, they will also be required to actually stand up and deliver a
speech, solve a hands-on mathematics problem, and perform a science
The Business Coalition and the Chamber has actually put a
significant amount of money behind this effort to make sure that it happens and
it happens correctly. And we will be actually announcing the nine pilot districts
that will be starting this project within April -- some time in April.
Key Finding Two: The business community believes that there is
an unequivocal, rank order of importance in content-matter areas. More than
any other area, literacy is number one. And, in fact, the business people said
over and over again, if schools were to do nothing else, they need to teach kids
how to read, write, and speak. That was their unambiguous message.
Second in order of importance was mathematical skills, the
foundational skills needed to be adults in this society. And third was science.
And they werenít even sure about science, which actually breaks my heart,
because I used to be a science teacher. But they finally admitted that science
was important, only because -- if only because New Jersey has so many sciencebased
companies, and we need the workers for that.
But they were absolutely adamant about the fact that schools need
to assess children, in terms of their performance in these areas, and that all
schools and the State need to be held accountable when every child does not
come out of the schools fluent in language, ready to go in math and in science.
So what did the business community decide to do? Well, the
Chamber members decided that the first thing to do was to hold schools
accountable. And, of course, youíre, Iím sure, familiar with No Child Left
Behind. And, of course, that includes an awful lot of accountability measures
But we believe that the current accountability system in the State
is not fair, itís not relevant, and it does not promote continuous improvement.
When you look at the School Report Card, when it is released annually, what
you see is a rank order of schools. And are we surprised that Princeton beats
Newark every time? No, weíre not surprised. So the Newark isnít happy, the
Princetons arenít really judged against their peers, nothing really works well.
So Iíd like to point your attention to the third page, because we
intend to change the way schools look at the data on student performance. You
see on Page 3, a little bar graph. We have convinced the Department of
Education to send us the school data. And itís all public information.
Itís now in Texas, and itís being mounted on a Web site calledJust
For the Kids. The Just for the Kids Web site reorganizes student performance
data on State tests in ways that are easy to understand, in simple bar graphs and
simple line graphs, so that you can track the schoolís performance, not only over
time, but in any given year, on any given test.
The red and blue bar graphs you see on Page 3 will be what you will
be able to see for every school in New Jersey, for every test the Department
offers. This happens to be the Goodman Elementary School in the Arlington
You can see there are three bars there, and let me quickly explain
what those are. The first bar is the scores of the students who took the tests that
day, the ones who were not absent -- rather, the ones who were absent and who
are not special needs, are not-- I mean, these are just the non-special needs kids.
So the first bar shows you, then, in the Goodman School, about 70 percent of
their kids did okay in the blue area. Another 20 or so did okay in the red area.
Actually, thatís passed proficient. But about 18 percent of their kids, the white
area left above the bar graph -- 18 percent of the kids failed, did not pass, were
Look at the second bar. The second bar reorganizes the same data,
such that only kids who have been with that school district for one year or more
are included in that thing -- because in all honesty, it is not fair to hold districts
accountable for kids who, sometimes, walk in the door, and take the test, two
days before the test is given. And we acknowledge that -- that we cannot hold
schools accountable unless you give them time to work with the kids.
The second bar is the bar that represents that work that school has
done with the kids who have been there more than one year. So you can see this
school does a lot better with the kids who are stable than with the kids who are
But the final, the third bar, is the most critical bar, because this
database does something that has never been seen before. When you ask this
database to pull up a single school, it automatically also pulls up 10 schools
who have identical student populations, kids who are as difficult, equally as
difficult, equally hard to educate, in terms of English as a Second Language and
socioeconomic factors. And you then can see the third bar represents the 10
comparable schools, that is 10 schools that have identical types of kids. Look
how much better those schools are doing with those kinds of kids.
So if I am a school district -- a school in Newark, I can see Bar 3,
and I can say, "Oh, my. I havenít done half as well as I thought I was doing,
because, look, the schools here and there and everywhere, who have the same
kinds of kids I do, are doing better." I call up that school, and I find out what
In Texas, schools who use this information -- the schools who use
this to make the educational decisions are increasing student achievement by an
annual rate of 3 to 8 percent over schools not using the data on this Web site.
So we have great hopes for this in New Jersey, and we will be
launching this project next month. But the site will be password protected until
October or September, at which point we will open it to the public. And every
parent, every policy maker, everybody, every teacher can access every school in
this kind of a comparative analysis situation. We believe that this will promote
continuous improvement, and that all schools will achieve better results.
Finding Three: Our business people were telling us that, in addition
to language, science, and math, what kids were coming to them having no clue
about was the work ethic. And if I have heard this once, Iíve heard this 155
times. These kids donít know what it means to come here and to be on time.
And, of course, Iím talking about the greater majority of employers who hire
part-time kids during high school and those who graduate and go into entry-level
So we established a program called School Counts! I donít know
if youíve heard of it, but we are going to be pushing this very hard in the next
year. School Counts! is a program -- you can see the credential down below. It
awards a credential to a student who achieves the four criteria next to the
Students must achieve aC or better in every class, must maintain
a 95 percent attendance and punctuality rate, must complete high school in
eight consecutive semesters, and must take more than the minimum number of
credits required for graduation. If they do all of that in every year, they get a
different colored certificate.
Employers can then say to the kids, "Show me your School Counts!
certificate." And if a kid doesnít have that certificate, it tells the employer that
he wasnít on time, she wasnít there, she was absent regularly, she didnít try very
hard. So the employer, then, gets a better sense of the child he is about to hire.
In states where employers use these kinds of student performance
records on a regular basis, not only do they find that their incoming workers
need less remediation, they find that in the localities where these kids are being
pushed to do more and to do better, enrollment in advanced math classes
doubles. So we believe that a program like School Counts! will not only affect
the employer community, but also positively impact education.
You can see that we have -- on Page 4-- We are moving on. One
of the things that we do is, of course, inform the kids that this is coming. You
canít make the kid change unless he or she knows that an employer is going to
say to them at the end of the road, "Show me your school performance record."
So you can see, we have full color posters that we slap up on the
walls of high schools. We have window decals both for the schools and the
employer. And, in fact, right now, you can see our School Counts! window
decals on the doorways of businesses like McDonalds, Wawas, ShopRites, and
many others, banks. We have 900 companies in the state who have already
said to us, "We will ask kids for the School Counts! credential."
In fact, in Cumberland County, this project has been so successful
that the county college stepped up and said, "You know what? We think this
is such an important effort that we will offer a full, two-year scholarship to any
student who has achieved the School Counts! credential every one of their four
high school years. We believe it will be better for our college population,
because we will need to remediate them less."
So right now, any student in a Cumberland County high school,
who achieves those four simple criteria -- and notice, theyíre not valedictorian
criteria -- will get a full county college scholarship. What an excellent incentive
to drive kids to doing it right the first time, to being in school every day, to
learning what they need to learn every day.
We think that is such an absolutely wonderful incentive that weíd
like to see it spread across the state. And weíd like to thank Assemblymen
Nicholas Asselta and Joseph Malone for introducing Assembly Bill 2932, which
calls for the establishment of a School Counts! scholarship.
Budgetary issues aside, some day we believe that when this bill goes
through, it will drive the workforce and students to perform in ways that they
havenít done before. The bill provides up to $500,000 per county, if the county
raises a match on a dollar-for-dollar basis. And given that Cumberland County
has already raised $1.6 million for School Counts! scholarships, in Cumberland
County we suspect that the private sector will really step up to the plate and
support this initiative.
But our statewide advertising campaign is just starting. You will see
our PSA commercials very shortly on NJN and on various cable stations, but
Iíve also included, for you, a copy of our full-page newspaper ad -- our black
and white newspaper ad, which says to employers, "How much do things like
absenteeism cost your company? Start today to change tomorrow. Become a
School Counts! employer." So thatís how we were addressing that issue.
Key Finding Four: For the first time in our surveys, even sole
proprietorships, bed and breakfast companies, are saying that technology is
critical. So, four years ago, the Chamber approached the Department of
Education and started to discuss with them the possibility of elevating the level
of rigor in what was then the workforce Readiness Standards. We felt that the
computer literacy standards were weak and not rigorous enough, and we felt that
there was no focus given to pre-engineering. And as you heard Libby Vinson
mention, pre-engineering is very critical, and weíve been working with a number
of business associations, among them BIA and the Tech Council of New Jersey,
and all of the education groups, including the NJEA, PSA -- the Principal
Supervisors Association. Weíve all agreed to support technology education and
computer literacy standards, because no one can survive without them.
But the Chamberís decided to go further than that, because
standards without assessment -- thatís basically meaningless. You put a
standard in place, how do you know that someone meets it? So weíve devised
an assessment, an online performance-based assessment, that we will be using
with the Department of Education, called the Technology Challenge, to assess
seniors before they graduate from high school. Do they know word processing,
database, spreadsheets, etc.?
This is a performance-based test, which asks very unexpected
questions. For example, it does not say to someone, "Whatís a gigabyte?" We
donít care whether or not people know vocabulary. What it asks is, "Attached
is a document that lists 500 of the most commonly used baby names in America
in 1999. Put them in alphabetical order and tell us which one is number 299th
on the list." That is a performance-based skill. You have to know how to select
the text, sort alphabetically, number, and find an answer. So the technology
challenge will be one of the possible mechanisms for students to prove
proficiency in computer technology.
Finally, Key Finding Five: The business community unanimously
agreed that it is absolutely impossible for teachers who have never experienced
the workplace to be able to deliver workforce skills to K-12 students. But we
admit that at this point in time, thatís a goal that weíre not even going to strive
for. Instead, we have decided to strive for just increasing the quality of the
teacher population as a whole.
When we looked around to see how we might do that, we noticed
that there was a program out there called the National Board for Professional
Teaching Standards. The National Board credential is the equivalent of some
of the credentials that are available in business. For example, if you were to hire
a bookkeeper, it would be better if you hired a CPA. CPAs take an extra exam,
pass more -- a higher bar to be a CPA than a bookkeeper would. An engineer --
you can hire an engineer or you can hire a professional engineer, a higher
ranking, more tests, more things involved. The same thing is true of the
National Board for teaching.
Teachers who pass the National Board must, first, take a written
test in subject matter. Thatís a concept that teachers who teach science would
have to prove that they know science. Teachers who teach math would actually
have to prove that they know the math. Then they are evaluated by specially
trained peers to make sure that they know how to teach it. Knowing it isnít
enough. You have to know how to teach it. Thatís the good news. We are
supporting the National Board process here in New Jersey.
The bad news is that we have 98,000 teachers in this state. Only
50 of them, 50, have passed the National Board. Other states have thousands.
For example, in North Carolina alone, 3,600 teachers hold the National Board
certification, and 2,000 more applied for it in 2002.
Our rate for the National Board process is, literally, abysmal. And
Iím not saying that there arenít great teachers out there, but the teachers who go
for the National Board process put it on the line and say, "Iím going to prove
that Iím a great teacher."
And as you can see from the final page, thatís our ad, our
recruitment ad, towards the National Board process. Weíre asking that
teachers, before they demand more of their students, they demand more of
So, as you can see, at the Chamber, we have not only assessed what
businesses seem to need and want in the incoming workers, but weíre also
responding very actively and in very many ways that we believe will change lots
of things going on in the K-12 system.
So thank you for your attention.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Madam Chair.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you, Dana.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Sure.
What is the cost of the national certification, the hours generally
involved, and how important is it to New Jersey administrators to have that
MS. EGRECZKY: The cost of the National Board process is
$2,300. Itís an application fee of $2,300, half of which is already supported by
Federal grants. So the average teacher, for about $1,150, can go ahead with this
The number of hours involved is quite extensive. In fact, itís the
equivalent of about half of a Masterís degree, in terms of hours. The teacher
does an awful lot of work: does a 12-page analytical review of his or her own
classroom practice; has to do three, 20-minute videos featuring themselves
teaching in a classroom. But every teacher who has gone through it says it has
opened their eyes.
So if you want to equate value and impact, the National Board is
the best bargain for the dollar, especially when you consider the research that
indicates that there is absolutely no connection between obtaining a Masterís
degree and effective teaching. And yet, this State supports millions of dollars,
in terms of paying for teachersí Masterís work in Masterís programs.
ASSEMBLYMAN SMITH: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Anyone else? (no response)
Thank you, both.
MS. EGRECZKY: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Barry Semple, from New Jersey
State Council for Adult Literacy.
B A R R Y S E M P L E: Good morning, and thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Good morning. Welcome.
MR. SEMPLE: Iím on the State Council for Adult Literacy, which
is the Council reporting to the State Employment and Training Commission.
We helped work on their White Paper: New Jersey in Transition, the Crisis of
the Workforce, as Iím sure all of you are aware of. Itís number one priority is
a reorganization of the basic skills, moneys that go out in this State from 24
sources in five departments. And that paper talks about the need for
streamlining and reorganizing those resources.
My second reason -- and Iím paraphrasing quickly -- and I only
gave you a page and a half to start with -- Iím paraphrasing quickly. Certainly,
Iím here first to support that concept, and I hope this Committee is fully aware
of that White Paperís 24 aid sources in five departments, with little relationship
to each other -- Education, Human Services, etc., etc. And the Governor and
the SETC have supported that idea.
Secondly, Iím here to underscore the problem of resources in the
area of adult literacy. And youíve heard several speakers talk about
immigration. Youíve heard them speak about the problems of English as a
second language. And a couple of them gave some statistics. Forty percent of
New Jerseyís adults function at a level of literacy beneath that required by the
labor market, 40 percent. Thatís by the National Adult Literacy Study that was
done by ETS and updated in 1998 -- 40 percent.
Five to 8 percent of that population are in programs each year -- 5
to 8 percent. Approximately 80 percent of those who receive Food Stamps or
Temporary and Needy are at those levels of literacy. Seventeen thousand
students, at least, drop out from our schools each year. In the urban areas, 40
to 60 percent of those kids read below the ninth grade level and find it very
difficult to succeed on a job.
The American Management Association reported -- and someone,
I think, gave that statistic -- somewhere near 38 percent of job applicants tested
by companies in í99 lacked the skills in reading, writing, and math necessary for
The Governor has given us a top priority, the Department of Labor
has given us a top priority for the last five years. Funding for basic skills, GED,
have not had a penny of State money since 1986. The adult high school -- and
I hope Assemblyman Geist will make note of this, because he asked that
question-- One of the funding sources being transferred by the Governor right
now is the adult high school. There are 50-some of these, enrolling somewhere
between 12,000 and 15,000 adults, to get a regular high school diploma, not a
GED. That aid source was about 28,000. Itís been there, at least, 20 or 30
years. The Governorís recommending that be knocked down to 10,000 and put
into a lump sum.
Iíve got a letter here from a Toms River adult high school principal
telling me that his superintendent has already said -- and under that situation,
they will wipe out the adult high school that had 400 and some enrollees, right
now, and hopes to graduate over 100 people.
If adult literacy and English as a Second Language are a top priority
of this State, from the Governor on down, from commissioner to commissioner
-- if there hasnít been an increase in adult literacy funding, GED funding, since
I was State Director of Adult Education with the Department of
Education for 12 years, way back when. You can tell by the white hair. I know
the budget situation is critical. I know that little help is coming from the
Federal government. I know weíre really up against an incredible crunch. And
Iím glad Iím not sitting in your seat or the Governorís seat, because I donít
know what I would do.
The only thing I want to raise today is that budgeting is, really, the
bottom line of priorities. And if we keep saying that basic skills -- and a large
number of our people cannot read or speak English -- is vital to our economy,
to our workforce, and to our democracy, then I beg of you to give some thought
to that consideration.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you very much for coming,
Any questions from the Committee? (no response)
Eric Richard, AFL-CIO, and Christian Estevez.
E R I C R I C H A R D: Chairwoman Friscia, members of the Committee,
My name is Eric Richard. Iím testifying with you this morning with
Christian Estevez, who is -- works with workforce development issues on a daily
basis within our office at the AFL-CIO. So, much like the Chamber of
Commerce before us, heís a lot more knowledgeable than I am on some of these
issues. So weíve brought him in specially to give some details on the particular
programs that organized labor is interested in.
However, before that, Iíd, of course, like to take the opportunity
to try to tie this in a little bit, legislatively, since that is my job, and say that itís
invigorating to see a lot of different groups come before you today and talk
about how much -- how important it is to treat workers properly, how important
it is to invest in training, etc.
With that being said, we ask those groups -- whether itís our friends
at Seton Hall University and others -- to come forward and support us on
various initiatives such as anti-privatization, anti-subcontracting, and living
wage ordinances, which, basically, will accomplish many of the objectives that
they specified in their testimony.
With that being said, Iíd just like to turn the remaining portion of
it over to my colleague, Christian Estevez.
C H R I S T I A N E S T E V E Z: Thank you.
Members of the Committee, good morning.
My name is Christian Estevez, and I am the Education and
Training Coordinator for the New Jersey AFL-CIO.
Thank you, Chairwoman Friscia, for the opportunity to testify
before this Committee to express our views regarding the changing demographic
makeup of New Jerseyís workforce.
Iíd like to start off by talking about what unions do to improve the
quality of life and the standard of living for all workers. Organized labor
protects working families in our stateís workforce through various activities,
including education and training. By pursuing internal initiatives, and also
through high-road partnerships with business and government, labor is
committed to strengthening our economy and our Stateís infrastructure in
ensuring that New Jersey remains a desirable place -- state for -- in which to
work and to raise our families.
Iíd like to speak briefly about the demographic changes, in terms
of sectors of employment. The task of meeting New Jerseyís workforce needs
has become especially challenging in the face of rapidly changing conditions
over the past two decades. While New Jerseyís workforce has increased by
nearly 1 million workers overall during this period, the State has experienced a
dramatic decrease in manufacturing, as many have mentioned here before. At
the same time, there have been remarkable increases in the service sector and in
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of
Labor Market and Demographic Research, manufacturing decreased by 42
percent between 1981 and 2001. In 1981, manufacturers employed roughly 29
percent of New Jerseyís workforce, and by 2001, only 11 percent of New Jerseyís
workforce was employed in the manufacturing sector. This follows a national
trend that has its roots in flawed trade policies and unfair trade practices that
put U.S. manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage, drive up the trade deficit,
and encourage American firms to move factories and jobs offshore. The
Economic Policy Institute estimates that the growth in U.S. trade deficits with
our NAFTA partners has resulted in a net loss of more than 750,000 American
jobs. This race to the bottom also forces workers remaining in New Jersey to
accept lower wages and decreased benefits as a way of reducing costs and
increasing profits for corporations.
During this same period that Iíve mentioned, construction
employment increased from 108,700 workers in 1981 to 161,000 workers in
2001. The private service sector experienced the most dramatic increase from
1.6 million workers in 1981 to 2.8 million workers in 2001. In 1981, service
workers already represented a little over one-half of New Jerseyís workforce. By
2001, service workers represented over two-thirds of the Stateís total workforce.
Itís quite clear that New Jerseyís made a tremendous shift from a
manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. And itís also
evident that construction trades continue to be demand occupations.
I would like to, now, talk a little bit about the demographic
changes, in terms of the minority workforce. Further changes occurred regarding
New Jerseyís minority workforce during the í80s and í90s. During this period,
women increased their participation in the New Jersey workforce by 27 percent
as compared to men, whose workforce participation only increased by 7.2
percent. When looking at increased workforce participation by race and
ethnicity, Latinos increased their total workforce participation by 160 percent
over 18 years. African-Americans come in second with a 64 percent increase
over the same time period. The increase for Caucasian workforce participation
was relatively low, at 5.4 percent.
The shifts in New Jerseyís economy away from manufacturing to
service-producing industries, as well as of the minority workforce, present special
challenges to our workforce development system. The huge increase in
workforce participation by Latinos, who have become the largest minority group
in the nation, has created a high demand for basic skills training, especially
English as a Second Language. Currently, many new immigrants remain
underemployed due to language barriers. The expansion of training programs
through the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills can help many
workers move up in the job ladder to high-skilled careers that provide living
wages and good benefits.
In 2001, the New Jersey AFL-CIO lobbied aggressively in support
of A-3774, in which Assemblyman Geist and Assemblywoman Friscia were
prime sponsors. Governor DiFrancesco signed this legislation, and the New
Jersey State AFL-CIO continues to work with the Department of Labor to
implement this program. In fact, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has staff who
are working to expand accessibility to such training by helping unions develop
and implement workforce literacy programs. These programs also provide
training in computer literacy, a skill that is becoming necessary in all aspects of
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO also partners with the State in its
efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities. As a member of the New Jersey
Apprenticeship Policy Committee, we have contributed to the development of
programs that have made apprenticeship opportunities available to more of the
Stateís workforce. The Youth Transition to Work Program has been successful
at exposing many high school seniors to the benefits of union apprenticeship
Unions have been especially successful in attracting more minority
students to apprenticeship through the YTTW Program. In their visits to high
school students, representatives from union apprenticeship programs have been
able to communicate how union membership raises workersí pay and narrows
the income gap that disadvantages minorities and women. Union workers earn
26 percent more than nonunion workers, according to the U.S. Department of
Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median weekly earnings for full-time
wage and salary work were $740 in 2002, compared with $587 for their
The union wage benefit is even greater for minorities and women.
Union women earn 30 percent more than nonunion women; African-American
union members earn 29 percent more than their nonunion counterparts; and for
Latino workers, the union advantage totals 53 percent. Also, union workers are
more likely than their nonunion counterparts to receive health-care benefits and
pension benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1999, 73
percent of union workers in private industry participated in medical-care
benefits, compared with only 51 percent of nonunion workers. Union workers
also are more likely to have retirement and short-term disability benefits.
Most important, YTTW has helped dispel the myth that students
only have two choices, college or McDonaldís. Apprenticeship has been able
to be exposed to them as an alternate route to higher education.
While YTTW programs have done an excellent job in raising the
awareness of the benefits of apprenticeship in our public schools, the New Jersey
State AFL-CIO continues to support targeted efforts to make apprenticeship
opportunities available to women and minorities in the Stateís poorest urban
districts. Organized labor is participating with local community stakeholders in
the 30 Abbott school districts in developing the Construction Trades Training
Program for women and minorities, a program funded by the New Jersey
Department of Labor, through the New Jersey School Construction Initiative.
Working in consortiums with local school districts, community-based
organizations and faith-based organizations, unions help to identify and prepare
qualified women and minorities in urban communities for entry into registered
These feeder programs are essential in meeting the need for skilled
workers in high-demand occupations such as construction and
telecommunications. Additional efforts are necessary as we continue to expand
apprenticeship into new occupations, such as culinary arts and marine diesel
mechanics. Apprenticeship is spreading to new occupations, because itís a
training model that works. The challenge of matching public and private
employers and workers in high-demand sectors with the greatest opportunities
for careers with high levels of skill and earning power requires an increased
investment in programs that work.
Finally, I would like to briefly discuss this yearís proposed budget
regarding workforce development. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO is concerned
with the proposed cuts to the Workforce Development Partnership Fund that
finances programs such as those previously mentioned. Currently, the budget
calls for a $62 million cut to the overall WDP Fund. These programs contribute
greatly to the Governorís goal of developing a highly skilled workforce that will
help retain quality employers, as well as attract new employers to the State of
While we are prepared to share in the pain of the budget cuts before
us, we want to work with the Governor in the future to ensure these important
programs continue, so that New Jersey can continue to move in the right
direction in developing the skills of our Stateís workforce.
Thank you, again, Chairwoman Friscia and members of the
Committee. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO appreciate the opportunity to
testify on such an important issue.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you.
Any questions? (no response)
Thank you, both.
MR. RICHARD: Thank you.
MR. ESTEVEZ: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Richard Santoro, from New Jersey
And we have one more after this.
R I C H A R D S A N T O R O: Good afternoon, Madam Chair and
members of the Committee.
Iím Richard Santoro, from the New Jersey Retail Merchants
Association, and Iíd like to thank you for this opportunity to just give a brief
overview of the retail community and some of the steps weíre taking to establish
skill standards and training.
The retail industry plays an integral part in the Stateís economic
viability, as two-thirds of all economic activity is consumer spending. The retail
industry is the second largest employer of our Stateís citizens, with retail
compensation amounting to $13 billion a year. The industry employs almost
600,000 people. There are over 50,000 retail establishments in the State of
New Jersey, that generate over $80 billion in retail sales. With all these sales,
of course, retailers produce $7.9 billion in sales tax for the State, which is the
second highest form of State revenues behind income tax.
Retailing is a growing industry, as youíve heard, to switch from a
manufacturing sector to a service sector. This is occurring both in New Jersey
and in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the
retail industry will grow from the 18 million jobs it produces now to a projected
25 million jobs by the year 2008. And based on the annual average growth rate
of 1.4 percent, which is higher than the growth rate for transportation,
communication, utilities, manufacturing, finance, insurance, or real estate--
With this incredible growth of the industry here in New Jersey, retailers certainly
have many jobs to fill, both in the stores and at the corporate level.
Retailing provides career opportunities for many special
populations, such as immigrants, minorities, and seniors, and helps them
become contributing members of the workforce. Retailers provide over 40
percent of students with their first jobs, have placed thousands of welfare
transitioners, and are developing targeted career options for the disabled, non-
English speakers, and senior citizens. In addition, retailers provide jobs for
people who are looking for flexibility in their work schedule during various
stages of their lives. As a matter of fact, I work part-time at a retail store on the
weekend. So it does fit my schedule, as well.
Something thatís always brought up with retail is wages. What do
wages look like at the entry-level? Well, certainly, there are some minimum
wage jobs out there. Increasingly, they are limited to small businesses. And
surprisingly, hourly earnings of non-supervisory retail workers averaged over $9
in 2001. Thatís the most recent figure I have.
One of the large retailers in New Jersey has reported to us that instore
salaries range from $48,000 to $150,000. Again, that $150,000 end is the
managerial store manager type of position. And the best part about this, I
think, is that a college degree is, typically, not required for these types of
positions. Over the years, with experience and with a lot of hard work, you can
definitely reach these positions.
I have a member on one of our committees who started working for
a retailer as a -- I guess he called himself a buggy boy. He used to go out in the
lot and collect the carriages when he was in high school. And now he is a
regional loss-prevention manager for a very large chain retailer. And thatís how
he started, pushing the carts around. Now he has a very solid job that pays him
well and that heís proud to do.
In addition to-- While these salaries are very competitive with other
industries -- and actually, the retail industry leads some of areas of the service
industry. And advancement opportunities and a variety of career options exist
in retail, as well. There are clear paths to the careers that are traditionally
associated with advancement in the retail industry, such as the system managers,
store managers, buyers, director of store operations, and so on.
As I said, with only a few years of experience, the store manager can
supervise over a hundred employees, oversee thousands of square feet of a
facility, and manage a budget of over a quarter of a million dollars.
There are many opportunities in retail, and I think itís, certainly,
one of the industries that is a gateway to employment. A lot of people start out
in retail. And within retail, the career paths lead to some opportunities that are
not as -- obviously in the store level -- but that still provide a lucrative career
track such as human resources, information technology, E-commerce, real estate,
and telecommunications, and the list goes on and on beyond the typical retail
One of the possible career paths that will begin with the position of
a sales clerk -- and thatís the typical entry level position in almost all types of
retailing. And with hard work and a commitment to the store team, it is
possible to be promoted from a sales clerk to one of the many retail options that
I just mentioned.
Overall, there are many areas or departments in retailing which
utilize entry-level employees, and they offer significant opportunity for
advancement. And you really would start off with a similar apprenticeship
program, as was mentioned earlier, except youíd be a retail management trainee,
where youíd learn a lot of the store operations and finance and marketing. And
from there, you can move up to being a buyer or a manager -- district manager,
and so on.
Of course, to be eligible for some of these opportunities, you have
to have basic skills. And as Assemblyman Smith had talked about earlier, the
retailer -- some of the retailers are finding that some employees do not come to
them with some of those basic skills, and therefore, they have taken that
obligation on themselves.
And in New Jersey, many young adults receive a basic education,
but I think as many as 11 percent donít graduate from high school. A large
number of these students have reading and math skills that are below the eighth
grade level. And without such basic skills, many of these people have difficulty
training for a job and have been categorically called unemployable. Yet, the
unemployable workforce, in an age where employees, especially retailers, are
having a hard time finding skilled employees, is a good labor source that they
And, therefore, retailers have taken it upon themselves to address
some of these discrepancies, and as the economyís leading creator of entry-level
jobs, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor, has begun the
development of national skills standards for retail sales positions. Itís intended
to help students, job applicants, and employers by formalizing the requirements
for all retail sales positions, and these standards clearly specify the abilities,
knowledge, and skills that are necessary for success. Companies recognize the
need for a highly skilled workforce to compete in a good economy -- a global
economy, excuse me -- and will use the skill standards to evaluate and measure
And perhaps one of the best ways that we can see this working in
New Jersey is through the Retail Skills Center. The Retail Skills Center serves
as a one-stop career center linked to community-based organizations, job
training and placement agencies, area schools and colleges, and employers. Itís
a state-of-the-art education and training facility, which combines self-paced
computerized instruction with workshops, placement services, and on-going job
counseling and skill development.
Thus far, the skills centers have been phenomenal in preparing
workers for the retail industry. They provide training related to the skill
standards, encourage employer participation in mentoring and advancing jobs,
and provide the counseling and logistical support to help people succeed in their
jobs. The Retail Skills Center up at Jersey Gardens, in Elizabeth, in one year,
brought over 7,000 people to job fairs and placed 2,500 workers within a few
weeks of the mallís opening. I think thatís definitely a strong sign of its success
right off the bat.
Therefore, in conclusion, the retail community in New Jersey, I
think, represents a model for empowering a diversified workforce to the retail
skills standards, through the Retail Skills Centers and training.
NJRMA aspires to play a valuable role in assisting a return to fiscal
responsibility and increasing disposable income through the application of the
retail industryís workforce model for the State of New Jersey. NJRMA possesses
particular success and expertise that follows the lead of Governor McGreeveyís
vision of building a world-class workforce, which is key to keeping New Jerseyís
economy on track.
Thank you for this opportunity today.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you, Richard. A lot of
work went into that. Thank you for the stats at the end of your testimony.
Any questions? (no response)
Okay. Thank you for coming.
Barbara Tofani, from New Jersey Hospital Association.
B A R B A R A T O F A N I: I think Iím the first one that gets to say good
Thank you for allowing me to come. Iím Barbara Tofani, and Iím
the Director of the Center for Nursing and Health Careers at the New Jersey
Hospital Association. Itís probably--
Am I the last of everyone?
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: No, thereís one more.
MS. TOFANI: One more. Okay. Well, I think itís pretty
appropriate that health care is last, or close to last, because we actually combine
everything that youíve heard from the testimony this morning. We are certainly
a service industry that focuses a lot on technology and has significant issues with
the academic preparation of our entry-level employees, and also of our
professional employees, in terms of their verbal and written communication
skills and their math and science backgrounds. So I think all thatís been said,
certainly, can apply to health care. And anything that can help to better prepare
students will, certainly, help the health-care industry in the long run.
The health-care industry is facing a workforce crisis unlike any
other, in terms of the varied complexities and causes, and Iíll talk about them
in a minute. Professional staff are aging. There are more nurses, pharmacists,
respiratory therapists, medical laboratory technicians, radiology technicians
leaving for a lot of reasons, including retirement. Thereís more leaving than are
entering into the health-care field.
Social attitudes about working in health care have changed
dramatically, and young men and women are having a lot more opportunities
to work in a variety of fields, as youíve heard already this morning, and theyíre
not that interested in coming into health care. And Iíll talk about that very
briefly in a minute.
But as the supply of workers dwindles, the need based on an aging
population-- In New Jersey, in the past 40 years, our senior citizen population
has doubled. And remember that the seniors are the high-end users of health-
care services. So as that population ages, and also as medicine has had great
accomplishments, in terms of the advances in medicine and the services that we
can provide, thereís a major disconnect between what we have, in terms of the
workforce, and what we need.
What I have done to make it easy on everyone is, I have given all
of you not only a summary of my comments, but a PowerPoint presentation
with statistics that talk to you about the demographics of the shortage, why
weíre in the position that weíre in.
In health care, we define a critical shortage as anything greater than
10 percent. And in nursing, radiology, many other categories within health care,
we are facing critical shortages of health-care professionals.
The other issue is that the pipeline is drying up, or has dried up. So
there are schools in the State of New Jersey that are either decreasing their
enrollment because they cannot get faculty, or theyíve closed their doors because
they havenít had the student enrollment to support the programs. Health care
programs are extraordinarily expensive to fund in the colleges and universities.
And if there arenít enough students interested in going into the careers, itís very
difficult to maintain and sustain those programs. We need to help to develop
an interest and an appreciation of health care at a much earlier age.
It was very interesting to hear from -- the presentation from the
Chamber of Commerce, that the business leaders could truly identify the need
for technology and the need for math in business, but they really couldnít put
a handle -- get a handle on why science was important, but they knew it was
important. Science represents the health and wellness of our community. I
mean, thatís probably the core of what we need in our community, because if
we donít keep our community healthy -- and healthy communities come through
good science -- learning diseases, understanding disease process, learning how
to treat them and how to prevent them, especially. So it was interesting that we
couldnít place a finger on it. And I think that thatís one of the reasons why
weíre seeing a lack of interest in health care, because thereís not a real value
placed to health care right now.
The Hospital Association is working very hard to change that, and
we are doing quite a few things to get into the schools, especially into the
elementary and middle schools, so that children can be exposed to these careers.
We can try and overcome some of the stereotypes, especially with men and
And if I could just tell you a very quick story-- I was in a sixth
grade classroom a couple of weeks ago, and I asked the boys, specifically,
"Would any of you be interested in becoming a nurse?" And about half raised
their hands. And they gave me a lot of reasons. The pay sounds very good, it
sounds very flexible, it sounds like thereís great opportunity. They like the idea
of the technology and also of helping people. But one little boy tapped me on
the arm and said, "But letís face it, thatís where the girls are." (laughter) At this
point, anything we can do to change the perception at that grade level is terrific.
ASSEMBLYMAN GREGG: If it works, it works, right?
MS. TOFANI: But just getting the kids open to the idea that,
perhaps, this is a possibility for them.
So anything that we can do in the grade schools--
Iíve also heard some testimony that talks about bringing technology
into the classroom and raising awareness with students about all careers through
technology. And there are experts. It was said before, thereís experts all over.
And one of the things that weíd like to do is bring the expertise of
the existing health-care community into the students, into the classrooms, and
perhaps try and establish some real time interactions with these kids, perhaps
broadcast surgical procedures right out of the operating room, real time, and let
these kids be hardwired through their classrooms to have conversations with the
surgical team to ask, "Whatís going on? Why are you doing that?" It not only
gives students an actual idea of what goes on in a surgical suite, which I call
little people area. Itís like a little people bus and a little people store. You go
through those operating room doors, and you have no idea what goes on. So
it takes some of the mystery away, but it also is a great opportunity to teach
kids about wellness, about taking care of yourselves, especially depending on the
cases that you select. If you select something with -- I am an oncology nurse by
background -- a patient whoís having some kind of a procedure for cancer, 85
percent of all cancers are caused by environmental issues, something that weíve
done, or our environment, or society has done. Talking to the kids about
substance abuse and tying those together--
Not everyone will be a health-care worker, and we recognize that.
But everyone will be a health-care consumer at some point in their lives, and
hopefully many will become health-care workers. Weíre looking to try and,
number one, establish an interest, not only in the students, but weíre also
looking to establish an interest in second-career seekers, people who might be
downsized from their jobs, people who might not have had an opportunity when
they were younger to go on to college or continue their education -- and try and
provide some opportunities for them to work in an industry, again, that not only
is a service industry that really meets the needs of our community, but also uses
technology, math, science, and communication skills to really help them to
achieve what they, maybe, ultimately wanted to achieve in their life.
We are partnering with the chambers of commerce, we are
partnering with the workforce investment boards, we are partnering with service
and education to try and help the transition from the higher education programs
into the workforce environment. And we are doing a lot, but a lot more needs
to be done, not only today, but we need to sustain the effort. We need to
continue it into the future.
In health care -- and I donít know if this is similar in other
industries -- but in health care, the workforce shortage is cyclic. And any of you
who have been around for a while have heard about a nursing shortage in the
í90s, and in the í80s, and in the í70s, and in the í60s. This shortage is a little
bit different for a lot of reasons, mainly because of the demographics. There are
just more older people who are the high-end users than there are people coming
up, and because students have many, many, many more interests and
opportunities than ever before.
So what we have to do is take the people who are interested, or
might be interested, and to really make the most out of them and be able to
maximize those resources that we have. But weíve got to stimulate an interest
for these students, and thatís the only way health care is going to survive.
I just want to reiterate some of the skills that are needed in health
care, and itís been said before. But anyone, whether itís a student coming from
high school or itís someone as a second career seeker looking for another
opportunity, needs to have a good math and science base. Do they need to be
brilliant in math and science? Absolutely not. But do they need to have a good
math and science base? Sure. And they need to go beyond those basic math
and science courses.
They also need to be technologically confident. They need to have
good computer skills, because everything in health care is moving towards
computerization. And so they do need to have great technology skills.
They also need to be self-motivated. They need to be critical
thinkers. They need those -- I think it was called -- the work ethicsí skills
training that the chambers of commerce talked about. They need to learn how
to come to work, how to come dressed appropriately, how to come on time and
stay until the work is done, and how to communicate with patients and
colleagues at all levels.
We are working with guidance counselors, teachers, recruiters,
human resource experts to try and help them steer those kinds of people, those
kinds of candidates into careers in health care.
Our efforts through the Center for Nursing and Health Careers at
the New Jersey Hospital Association have been very collaborative, have been
very comprehensive. But as I said, we need to do more. We have reached out
to 700 schools in New Jersey, and weíve already reached about 1,200 students
in elementary, middle school, and grade school, but there are tens of thousands
more students that still need to be reached.
I applaud your efforts to address these issues, and I welcome the
chance to work with you in the future to create some effective, sustainable plans
to evaluate and connect these high demand sectors with confident, well-trained
Again, in your handout is a PowerPoint presentation. I think it
gives you a lot of statistics that might help as you move forward with your plans
to come up with a strategy. And I thank you for the opportunity to speak to
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you for coming today,
Barbara. Itís a good presentation. We appreciate it.
MS. TOFANI: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN GEIST: Thank you.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: We have one other person who
didnít sign up, Harvey Steinberg.
Harvey, could you come up and give us a synopsis of your written
H A R V E Y S T E I N B E R G: Yes, surely. My written testimony is already
a synopsis of many more pages, which I wrote up last night.
If youíll turn to the second page--
Let me just say, first, that -- for Assemblyman Geist, whoís going
out -- Iíve spent 12 years in the labor movement as a national vice president of
an industry union. I was a -- for Assemblyman Sarlo -- I was a professor at
NJIT for 12 years teaching management at all levels -- and a great deal of other
diverse background, especially in the field of human resources. I only say that,
because it will sound peculiar, in terms of what Iím about -- if I donít say that --
in terms of what Iím about to present.
If youíll turn to the -- itís the second page Iíll start with. And Iím
going to do this anecdotally. Anecdotes are the stuff of which statistics are
made, so letís -- itís a little more personable, also. Iíll just read it out.
I know a boy who, since age 8, has shown a remarkable talent for
envisioning, assembling, and inventing mechanical devices. But he has hardly
anywhere to grow these talents.
In the old days, such children might have fixed their fatherís car
hands-on. And I want to support all those people who talked about hands-on,
because thatís where kids are at, thatís where growth comes from. Today, car
fixing, and almost all other opportunities for early learning of engineering, in all
its branches, is hands-off. And there are virtually no labs where such children
can indulge those talents, especially after school, and acquire a foundation for
natural exponential growth as they get into their high school years.
I went to Stuyvesant High School, by the way, in New York, which
was a premiere science high school in the country, probably together with the
Bronx High School of Science.
A basic message is that young children have tremendous
capabilities, which adults do not take into account. Give them junk work to do,
theyíll turn out the junk sought. Set them higher objectives and let them go to
work at it, theyíll love not only fulfilling the objectives, but will produce to their
fullest. In fact, theyíll produce amazing results.
Iíve seen it, for example, in the visual arts, in writing, in engineering,
and science. To anticipate an argument, doing so does nothing to diminish the
childrenís many other enjoyments of young life. Those kids are not nerds.
Itís hard to get passed the wall of convention and habit to think
outside the box, but we must. The best of American industry was built by
providing opportunities for the unstandard.
What can New Jersey do about this, legislatively? In general,
develop the strategies for programs which will challenge children in hands-on
disciplines vital to our societyís future. Get the programs implanted into the
community through the school systems, but especially within appropriate
community nonprofits, where there is greater freedom for experimentation and
having fun while doing that. Iíve done a lot of that myself, and it works. Work
with labor organizations for their members to mentor these kids.
Iíll just leave that topic with that. Thatís on your third point of
excellence -- human excellence in the workplace.
Turning to the first page, and this I can, I think, shrink down a little
Again, an anecdote. This has to do with growth areas and skill
demands. Another story of a wholly different sort. I was the economic
development of the Hoboken -- Director of Hoboken, as well as his Deputy
Director of the model cities program for a number of years, which really took
the most dilapidated city in New Jersey and made it what it is today. And this --
I know what Iím talking about, when we think about the other item that I dealt
Several years ago, I did a study on a pro bono basis through the
good offices of one of the Stateís major cities. That city desperately needed a
fuller measure of job opportunities for its large population of low- and semiskilled.
A small spark of creativity that I applied to a dry body of data lit up the
possibility for the city to seek to proactively encourage the manufacturer of a
particular major product. In this case, of the component parts of pre-fab
The industry was, for example, a very substantial one in
Pennsylvania. There were no such facilities as I remember -- or almost none in
New Jersey -- even though New Jersey was one of the primary customers for
those homes. My study inevitably took me a bit beyond the dry data, all of
which firmed up a reasonably good prognosis for success. So far, so good.
It would have sat well with me if the cityís administration had
conscientiously reviewed the concept and, finding it wanting based on the facts,
had scotched it. But the city dismissed it without even a side glance at its
possibility. This happens a lot. It was no skin off my nose. Today itís a
growth industry elsewhere.
Elevating experience like this, multiplied by others, into a couple of
generalities -- and Iíve dealt with cities a fair amount, as I say, and intensively
in some cases-- In the smaller business sector, employment growth and skills to
support that growth are inseparable from governmental attention to the
entrepreneurial outlook -- and I say that coming from, basically, the labor
movement and my training in it. Which means, municipal administration ought
to put the relevant staffs to work proactively discovering, reaching out to
encourage -- encouraging and materially fostering niche industries realistically
and tenaciously -- and that word is important,tenaciously -- instead of waiting
for manna to fall from heaven. "Hereís money. Weíre giving it to you. Hereís
our industry. We want to come into your town." Well, what about going out
and looking for it where itís proper to do so?
What can the State of New Jersey do about this, legislatively?
What can I say? I donít want to be abusive here, but wake up, city hall. And
Iíve been in politics, and I understand what they might say about that. But itís
really aside from politics that these things can get done.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Thank you, Harvey.
We appreciate your coming down. As I said, I didnít know you
were going to testify because you didnít fill out the form. But we thank you.
MR. STEINBERG: Well, Greg wasnít here at the moment.
Thank you very much.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN FRISCIA: Okay.
Motion to adjourn. Weíre done.