By Monsignor William J. Linder
There was a time when working with one’s hands was in vogue. I know because I did it…repairing appliances, fixing cars or working on a home building project. But in today’s society, where many of our youth are growing up in homes with no one to show them how to drive a nail, fix a leaky pipe, prepare a basic meal or work under the hood of a car, this kind of hands-on experience appears to be a lost art.
And it’s too bad because many college graduates—even some with advanced degrees—find themselves unable to find jobs.
Still, there are too few programs available to teach practical trades. Classes in technical education, or what high schools used to call “shop,” have pretty much been eliminated. Thousands of jobs in the skilled trades, meanwhile, go unfilled.
Here at New Community, our Workforce Development Center is providing both men and women with practical, hands-on training in areas like the Building Trades, Automotive Technician and Culinary Arts. Individuals are learning important skills like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, the basics of automotive repair and food preparation. Our Automotive program is backed by Ford Motor Company, a fact that sets our students apart when they graduate. We also will soon be jump-starting our Gateway-To-Work Supermarket Career Program with ShopRite, which will produce a steady pipeline of workers equipped to immediately assume positions in ShopRite stores, including as cashiers and deli clerks. Then there is our Health Careers program, where individuals are being trained for in-demand jobs like Patient Care Technician and Pharmacy Technician.
At New Community, we just don’t believe in training for training’s sake. We connect our students to potential employers even before they graduate. A recent event at our Automotive Training Center featured employers like Ford, BMW, Sansone Auto Mall, and DCH Auto Group.
We are grateful to the State Department of Labor for the $260,000 Opportunity4Jersey grant they have provided to our Workforce Development Center to help fund the Automotive Program. New Community is glad that the department recognizes the importance of this type of hands-on training and its potential to catapult one into a stable, good paying job, often with longevity.