As companies pledge to bring jobs into Camden, new training program for residents launches

Government And Institutions Associated Press

New Jersey is committing to increase job training as new companies plan to bring thousands of jobs to a city that ranks among the nation's most impoverished.

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The state Labor Department on Tuesday announced a commitment of $500,000 for job training aimed at Camden.

The city's unemployment rate for December was 11.7 percent, nearly twice the state rate of 6.2 percent. And the number does not include those who have given up looking for work.

"We need to make sure that these residents who need jobs will be able to find those jobs," U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, a Democrat whose district includes the city, said at Tuesday's announcement.

The new program is designed to train residents for jobs at specific employers.

In the first wave of training, Camden County College is to use a $10,000 state grant to prepare low-skilled workers for jobs at three companies: Ravitz Family Markets, European Metal Recycling and COMARCO Products.

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Deputy Labor Commissioner Aaron Fitchner said the state is planning to start other training programs for groups of companies with similar needs, or perhaps even individual firms. They're to be run by colleges, unions or other groups.

The firms are not promising jobs for the people who complete the training, but they are obligated to at least interview them.

As part of the Camden initiative, the state is also planning to offer a $150,000 grant to prepare residents for construction-industry apprenticeships.

Camden has been getting extra attention from the state, including through tax credits being used to bring businesses into the city. Since December 2013, the state has committed more than $600 million in future business tax credits to companies heading toward the city.

The Philadelphia 76ers are planning to build a practice facility there, and Subaru has committed to moving its headquarters from nearby Cherry Hill.