TRENTON – The state Assembly Labor committee voted by an 8-1 margin on Thursday to release a proposed bill that is meant to create a workforce training program for former casino workers.
The bill, designated A4103, was drawn up in response to the high job losses suffered in the New Jersey gaming industry, particularly in Atlantic City. Since January 2014, four Atlantic City casinos have shuttered, resulting in the loss of more than 8,300 jobs. The Atlantic City region has already experienced an almost nine percent decrease in employment in recent years.
The $1.35 million job training and education program, which is designed to work in conjunction with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, will focus on seven industries experiencing job growth.
The proposed measure dedicates five percent of the 45 percent of reserved funds for customized training collected for the state Workforce Development Partnership fund to provide training and educational instruction to people formerly employed by casinos in the last two years, or who have received a layoff notice.
Eligible individuals will be trained at county colleges, county vocational schools, or other approved training providers. New participants in the program will be accepted up to three years after the date of the anticipated enactment of the bill, and can access available funds from the initiative for up to four years of the date of their enrollment.
The initiative will cease to accept new enrollees if the average unemployment rate in Atlantic County decreases below five percent for three consecutive months.
“We must use every tool in our arsenal to support displaced casino workers. These funds, $1.35 million, will go directly towards retraining workers in our most needed industries,” said state Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-2), one of the primary co-sponsors of the bill. “I’m proud of this bipartisan effort to help Atlantic County’s hard-working middle-class families. Putting residents back into the workforce is a boon for families and our region as we move towards a more diverse economy outside of casino gaming. We must act now while these funds are available in support of our displaced workers.”