Brookdale officials hosted business and community leaders from across Monmouth County on June 20 to detail free and low-cost programs now available to local workers, entrepreneurs and the unemployed.
The grant-funded programs, offered through Brookdale’s Center for Career Development (BCCD), provide job training, counseling, grant preparation and a wide range of other services for area businesses.
Officials said the programs can help grow businesses and even launch new ones in Monmouth County, where events such as superstorm Sandy and the closure of Fort Monmouth have created a pressing need for economic development.
“We like to listen to the community needs, so that’s why we have you here this morning,” said Marie Lucier-Woodruff, dean of business and community development at Brookdale. “We want to hear from you and let you know that we are here as a resource.”
The event, held at the Warner Student Life Center on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus, brought together representatives from 10 local and county-level chambers of commerce in Monmouth County, along with members of the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council and the nonprofit Jersey Shore Partnership. Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy and Dr. Webster Trammell, vice-president of development, community and governmental relations, joined members of the BCCD at the conference.
Brookdale officials highlighted new programs that will soon be offered by the center, in addition to the workforce training services currently provided to local businesses at no cost.
One new program, according to BCCD Business Training Manager James McCarthy, will allow unemployed workers to train on equipment used in the manufacturing industry. Program participants will work with skilled instructors to learn an in-demand trade, ultimately taking a national certificate exam that would lead to a job in the field.
“It’s an exciting program because people are going to be walking away with skills that are needed,” McCarthy said. “You hear about a shortage of labor in the manufacturing fields. Employers will hire these people when they finish the program.”
The manufacturing course will join an existing BCCD program that offers mortgage loan officer training for unemployed and underemployed individuals.
Dominic Latorraca, director of workforce training at Brookdale, said the goal is to provide businesses, workers and residents with the tools and skills they need to grow in today’s economic climate. From free General Education Development (GED) courses to advanced medical training in burgeoning specialty fields, the offerings are specifically tailored to Monmouth County’s needs, he said.
“We’re here to serve the business community, but we are also relying on the business community,” he said. “We are always looking to you as a resource.”
One of the BCCD’s most successful programs offers free tuition to eligible individuals pursuing careers in Monmouth County’s largest industry: health care. Over the past four years more than 300 students have benefitted from the program, with a job placement rate of more than 70 percent, Latorraca said.
The center also offers free workforce training programs in computer software, customer service, sales communications, basic math, English as a second language and other subjects for local businesses. Experienced instructors will either work with employees on site or host training sessions at any of Brookdale’s six Monmouth County locations, McCarthy said.
The program is funded through the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and run in partnership with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development.
The BCCD can also help business owners write grant applications to fund their own training programs, all at no cost, McCarthy said.
Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Brookdale, said her organization can also help businesses prepare long-term plans for financial stability, growth and even expansion. From social media, website management and e-commerce to financial planning and one-on-one counseling, Mejias-Fuertes said the SBDC has a number of programs for Monmouth County’s diverse business community.
“We make sure that you have the foundation, no matter what you want to do,” she said, adding that many of the center’s services are free and offered in English and Spanish. “The better educated you are, the more successful your business will be.”
Louis Rodriguez, trustee of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Monmouth County, said after the conference that many of his constituents could benefit from the BCCD’s slate of programs.
“A lot of people could use some help preparing a long-range plan for their business,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic. I will be bringing that back with me.”
For more information on Brookdale’s career development and continuing education programs, click here.
Click here for more photos of the Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.