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TRENTON -- Legislation Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land sponsored to fortify New Jersey’s five military installations gained approval from the General Assembly on Thurs.

The bill (A-2515) would establish a 12-member New Jersey Military Skills Council in the Department of State to assess the condition of military skills and training in New Jersey and advise the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education on expenditures from the Workforce Development Partnership Fund and other state funds for the training and education of workers in preparation for jobs with the military and supporting industries.

“Just like any other sector, the military functions best when it can assess its needs and fill any gaps with well-trained individuals,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army. “This legislation will help New Jersey prepare residents for roles that fortify our military.”

New Jersey's military installations provide 45,631 direct jobs and 27,603 indirect jobs, according to the July 2015 Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force report. The bases add $6.5 billion of wealth to the state's gross domestic product and create $9.6 billion in business revenues.

“There are many opportunities for residents of New Jersey to serve their nation, but we need to figure out exactly where those opportunities lie and how to connect people to them,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. “This council will serve the dual purpose of strengthening our military and making sure that our residents are qualified for good jobs.”

The council would compile an annual report on: the comprehensive needs of the installations and key industries; employment barriers; deficiencies and opportunities for growth in the current workforce; alignment of curriculum and ways to enroll students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs; development of resources, benefits and outcomes; preparation of workforce development strategies; and engagement of educators, military and industry to ensure workforce alignment.

The council would be comprised of: the Secretary of State, the Adjutant General, the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the chair of the Employment and Training Commission, the Secretary of Higher Education, the commissioner of the Department of Education, two senators, two members of the Assembly and two public members.

The five military installations located throughout New Jersey are: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties; Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County; United States Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County; Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County; and United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May County.

The bill passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature and now heads to the governor’s desk.

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