Celebrating N.J. job-training program that’s helped 114,000 workers, 7,500 employers

 Workers at Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems celebrate  10 years of New Jersey’s Basic Skills Workforce Training Program at the company in Wall. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Workers at Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems celebrate 10 years of New Jersey’s Basic Skills Workforce Training Program at the company in Wall. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

State officials, community college and business representatives in New Jersey gathered at an aerospace equipment company in Wall Township Tuesday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a workforce training program.

Carolina Diaz, who took the basic skills course when she starting work at Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems 10 years ago, now is a quality-control inspector at the company that makes inflatable escape slides for commercial aircraft.

“Basic skills gave me confidence in my job in my everyday work and actually inspired me to keep going and go back to school,” she said. “Now what I’m doing is I’m working on my masters in business administration.”

The state provides more than a million dollars a year in grants for the training.

Over 10 years, the program has trained about 114,000 thousand workers for more than 7,500 different New Jersey employers, said acting New Jersey Labor Commissioner Aaron Fichter.

“It’s a lot of basic skills training, English as a second language training, but it really helps people move up the career ladder and be more productive in their jobs,” he said. “It means that we’ve a more skilled workforce and it means that we can compete for economic growth and economic activity, and companies want to be here and want to grow.”

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