It's been 10 years since the New Jersey Business and Industry Association created a Basic Skills Workforce Training Program and today, they are celebrating that success.

NJBIA President and CEO, Michele Siekerka says the program, which is free to participants, has trained more than 113,000 workers for more than 7,500 New Jersey employers over the course of the past decade.

She says the state and the community college consortium established this program that has helped businesses provide their employees with the basic skills that the workplace demands.

"The basic skills program was meant to bring funding to the idea of training the workforce so they were prepared to accept the jobs that New Jersey companies were providing today."

For years the NJBIA has heard from its member companies that the workforce was lacking certain skills such as math, writing and verbal skills — even skills such as dressing appropriately for the workplace, the importance of showing up to work on time and working well with team members.

She says the programs provides training in computers, verbal and written customer service communications and math. A big part of the program is learning English as a second language.

Training programs are provided through the state's 19 community colleges.

"The class can take place either on the college campus, or an instructor will come to the business site and do basic training right on the business site."

The programs are funded through grants from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Siekerka says the NJBIA represents about 20,000 businesses across New Jersey, employing 1.2 million workers, but they are always looking for opportunities to educate companies on the fact that this free program exists and that both employers and employees can benefit.

Helping an entry level employee to become better in their career is to help build his or her basic skills, "making them not only employable but employable at a higher rate, leading to better opportunities," adds Siekerka.

She says that companies want to invest in their employees. The NJBIA wants to help keep high school and college grads in New Jersey, but they need to make sure these young members of the workforce are ready and well-trained to take on positions employers are looking to fill.

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