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Ahead of the Curve

by Amanda Hamm Hengel

…From the pages of South Jersey Biz…

Thanks to an abundance of free and low-cost training programs, you can rest assured your employees are at the top of their game.

A few local baseball fans are taking their hobby to the bank, with a new company that has all-stars all across the country looking toward South Jersey.

Maintaining a business in tough economic times can be difficult, but ensuring employees have the training they need to be successful? Not as difficult as it may seem, thanks to a host of offerings, either free or affordable, available through local institutions of higher education.

New Jersey Business & Industry Association Basic Skills Workforce Training Program Through local community colleges, the program offers free training to employers and employees. It was developed by the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development in partnership with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the NJBIA. It includes instruction in several subjects, such as Microsoft Office, written and verbal communications, customer service and mathematics/measurement, which can take place at the college or at the business.

“There’s no reason why companies wouldn’t want to take advantage of this training,” says Sivaraman Anbarasan, executive director the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development. “This is your dollars coming back to you in terms of benefits.”

Anbarasan says companies just have to register, not apply, at a local community college. He says computer skills courses are by far the most in demand, while communication skills courses are next.

In addition, the consortium provides assistance with training grants, including those that are industry-specific. “If a company has a specific need, then we are able to also, on behalf of the company, write a customized grant application for them so their employees can be trained,” Anbarasan says.

Corporate College
Burlington County College
The Corporate College offers continuing education in personal and business growth, according to Rebecca Corbin, acting dean. They offer a wide array of training and development programs, and this spring will be piloting one, in partnership with the Burlington County Workforce Investment Board, the Insurance Society of Philadelphia and AJM Insurance, that focuses on the insurance industry. Upon completion, individuals will be pre-certified to join the workforce. “It is geared for the Burlington County College student, someone who is unemployed, or even someone who is underemployed and wants a better wage or benefits, and veterans,” Corbin says. “The students can register for the course and apply for a scholarship.”

Customized Training Department
Camden County College
Camden County College’s Customized Training Department has a number of solutions available for businesses of all sizes. From employee development to marketing, sales and customer service courses, if a business is looking to enhance employee skills, an answer can be found. While the courses are not free, a business can apply for a grant to help, according to Carol McCormick, senior account executive. She says the cost depends on the program’s subject and length, and whether a customized program must be developed.

Business and Industry Training Center
Gloucester County College
Allen Magid, sales manager for Continuing Education, says community colleges offer a host of options. “If people wanted to come here to improve their computer skills, we have computer classes that are just $99,” he offers as an example. Magid says there are a number of grants available, and GCC can help with the process. The grants include Opportunities for Jersey, which is for companies hiring new employees, and Recovery for Jersey, which is for businesses looking to retrain people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Magid says the most popular courses right now are computer skills and customer service training. “Companies are finding that what sets them apart from their competitors is customer service,” he says, noting that enrollment in telephone etiquette and face-to-face customer service courses are on the rise.

Executive Education
Rutgers School of Business – Camden
A training provider for business professionals since 2004, Executive Education at Rutgers offers more than two dozen grant programs, along with various training programs, designed to sharpen an individual’s skills, according to Karen McCaffrey, assistant director of Executive Education. Upon completion of any of the programs, the individual can add a Rutgers certificate to their resume. In addition, a Career Fast Track program is offered that is designed to help in the key steps of job search and employment. Other offerings include free, 60-minute webinars focusing on leading industry topics, including Project Management and Innovation.

NJ Small Business Development Center
Rutgers School of Business – Camden
Eighty workshops are offered that are free or cost a minimal fee, according to Director Gary Rago. He says the most popular workshop is the “Small Business Q & A,” held every other Friday for $25. “It’s very popular, especially for people starting a new business,” he says. The center recently re-instated its QuickBooks workshop, which is presented in three parts. The $390 fee includes 21 hours of instruction. “The first part is accounting fundamentals, the second part is basic QuickBooks, and the third is advanced QuickBooks,” he says. Additionally, the center offers an entrepreneurial certificate program in conjunction with BCC and GCC, as well as a no-charge consultation.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 3 (March, 2013).
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