Important Announcement Notice of Competitive Grant Opportunity for New Jersey’s Literacy Skills Grants

Trenton – To achieve economic success, all of New Jersey’s workers must be able to function at their highest potential skill levels across all industry sectors. To help businesses improve the basic skills of their incumbent workers, New Jersey is making $10 million in Supplemental Workforce Development Partnership Program training funds available from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for the balance of fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007). Beginning February 13, 2007, New Jersey employers may apply for competitively awarded Literacy Skills Grants. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will set aside funds for these grants from the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills. The Literacy Challenge According to a 2001 white paper, New Jersey in Transition: The Crisis of the Workforce, almost 40% of New Jersey’s adults function at a level of literacy beneath that required by the labor market. Approximately 80% of those who receive food stamps or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) function at the lowest levels of literacy. Moreover, in New Jersey’s urban school districts, between 40% and 60% of students drop out of school with reading levels well below the ninth grade. This is a disturbing trend for businesses hoping to attract entry level workers to their organizations. As described in New Jersey’s Unified State Plan for Work Readiness, “The growing wage gap between low-skill and high-skill jobs bears testimony that the acquisition of skills by the workforce is central to the health of the economy and the life chances of individuals. A manufacturing economy that could support a relatively low-skilled workforce with high wages has been replaced by an economy, including modern manufacturing, where literacy and technical skills are essential. Although the economy needs to produce a range of jobs that provide employment opportunities to workers with varying skill levels, advancement in most occupations will also require additional skills.” (NJ State Employment and Training Commission, The Unified State Plan for the period of July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007)

The primary objective of a competition for Literacy Skills Grants is to develop solutions to improve the basic literacy skills of incumbent workers in low wage, lower-skilled occupations in New Jersey. Grant

awards will be made on a competitive basis to the strongest applications demonstrating training that will improve employed workers’ basic communication skills, basic computer skills, basic math skills and English as a second language (ESL) skills along with the other work readiness skills as defined by the Work Readiness Profile. (See Attachment 3). It will provide employers the opportunity to invest in their own workers. To be eligible, organizations and businesses must apply to upgrade the skills of workers employed no less than 20 hours per week. This competition encourages the formation of consortia applications where individual applicants may not be in a position to, or may elect not to, administer their own grant. Consortia should consist of two or more organizations in partnership with New Jersey’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational-technical schools and other qualified training providers. Potential eligible applicants for a competitive Literacy Skills grant include:
• •

An individual New Jersey employer; An employer organization, labor organization, community-based organization, or a consortium made up of one or more educational or training institutions seeking basic skills training assistance to upgrade the job-related literacy skills of workers employed in New Jersey.

Applicants for grants will:

• •

Provide a 50% match towards the total direct cost of providing the training; however, applicants that focus on training low wage, low literacy level workers are encouraged to apply even if they have a lesser percentage of employer matching funds. Define results in the form of improvement of the workers’ basic skills and validate the attainment of these results through pre/post training assessments of each trainee using the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Applicants may request grant funds, in the amount of $500 per application, to help offset the cost of the pre/post assessments. Use the existing online Customized Training Tracking System (CTTS). All applicants will be subject to the existing General Provisions of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Literacy Skills Training agreements. The applicant must provide a valid federal tax identification number and owe no liabilities to the Department. The submittal of employer financial statements is not required. Provide a supplemental narrative to their assigned business representative describing how this literacy application will address the literacy needs of their workforce, and respond to the evaluation criteria below.

Evaluation Criteria: In reviewing elements of the application, including the course descriptions and course outcomes, the review team will review your application for evidence that the following criteria have been met. • • • Does the training address challenges facing its limited or non-English speaking workforce that impacts the employer’s ability to thrive in New Jersey? Is the training focusing on lower wage workers who traditionally have not had the benefit of work-based instruction to improve their basic work skills? Is the training based on a sound curriculum plan that addresses the basic work skill needs of

• • • •

the targeted workers? Will the training be facilitated by competent instructors who are employed by a training provider on the Eligible Training Provider List? Will new employment opportunities be created for the existing workers, or will the possibility of wage increases occur at the successful conclusion of the training? Is there evidence of a career ladder in place that will allow graduates of the training to assume greater work responsibilities? Are there defined metrics for evaluating results in the form of improvements in basic skills measured by recognized assessment instruments to determine the pre- and post- training skills of the workers?

Each applicant will be assigned a Business Representative from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide technical assistance throughout the application process. A Schedule of Grant Activities is attached. The Grant awards will be made to successful applicants during the second half of fiscal year 2007.

ATTACHMENT #1 Step-by-Step Application Process To be eligible for Literacy Skills competitive grant, you must express your notice of intent to apply by completing the prequalification portion of the application online by March 9, 2007. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development encourages all potential grant applicants to attend the Literacy Skills Grants workshop scheduled for February 22, 2007

Prequalification: For an overview of the Basic Skills/ Workplace Literacy Grants grant program Click Here. Any organization that wishes to apply for a competitive grant must use the online application. You will need to have a personal computer in order to complete an application. Please review the contents of the website and pay particular attention to the Personal Computer Requirements listed at the bottom of the page. On the NJDLWD website http://www.state.nj.us/labor, select Business Services from the Program Areas section. On the Business Services website, select Customized Training. Once you have reviewed the information, select the link labeled Apply for Financial Assistance at the beginning of the Customized Training website. This will link you to a Welcome page. Before proceeding, review the General Provisions document, which is accessed by a Click Here direction on the Welcome page. The General Provisions apply to all grants awarded by the Office of Customized Training. They include:
• •

A commitment to establish and maintain a working relationship with local One-Stop Career Centers to assist with the recruitment of new workers. Use of an approved New Jersey based training provider.

Further Requirements:
• •

No liability to the Department for the business(es) applying Must adhere to the cost/instructional hour and number of hours allowed by the Department for training courses in the application

Digital Certificates: Next, review the State of New Jersey Subscriber Agreement for digital certificates, which is accessed by a Click Here direction on the Welcome page. A New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development staff member will work with each applicant early in the application process to install a

State of NJ digital certificate on a personal computer the applicant designates as the personal computer that will be used by the applicant/grantee to electronically sign all documents in the application, agreement, reimbursement, and close out processes. Once the review is completed, click on the Continue button at the bottom of the Welcome page. This will take you to the Customized Training Grant Program Prequalification Questionnaire. The Prequalification is a one-page online form. Enter all the data requested. In the section of the Prequalification Questionnaire that asks for the Type of Desired Application, select Literacy. In the section that asks for the Primary Product or Service, specify that you are applying for a competitive literacy grant and then list your primary product or service (i.e. Competitive Literacy-Hotel Housekeeping). Once you complete the Prequalification, print a copy for your records by selecting the Print button at the end of the Prequalification Questionnaire, and then select the Submit button to submit the Prequalification Questionnaire for review by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Once the Department’s review is completed, the Office of Customized Training will send a message to the e-mail address specified in your Prequalification Questionnaire. If additional information is required before proceeding with the application, the e-mail will contain instructions. If no additional information is required, you will receive two e-mail messages:
• •

The first e-mail message will contain instructions for setting up your access to the My NJ Portal as well as an authentication code you will use as part of the setup. The second e-mail message will contain instructions for setting up your access to the Customized Training Tracking System (CTTS) as well as a security code you will use as part of the setup.

Both steps are required and must be followed in that order. Application:

Once you have established access to the My NJ Portal and to CTTS, click on the Welcome to the Customized Training System link on the portal page. This will take you to the main menu screen for CTTS. In the upper left corner of the menu there will be a series of selection boxes. If you run your cursor over the boxes, another series of boxes will drop down from the menu box you select. These are the action boxes that direct CTTS to the function you wish to perform. From the Application select box, chose the Create/View/Modify function. This will bring you to the first section of the Literacy application. Most of the data in this section will be pre-filled with information you provided in the Prequalification Questionnaire. Complete the information in this section. Then select the Next button at the bottom of the section to move to Section Two. After you move to Section

Two of the application, a staff member will assist you in completing your application. You will receive an e-mail message providing the name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number of your designated contact person. National Work Readiness Credential: The State of New Jersey has been a major partner in the creation of a national Work Readiness Credential (WRC) that is a nationally validated, portable, computer-based assessment that measures readiness for entry level jobs. While this Literacy grant competition focuses on improving the basic skills of existing lower wage workers, the participation of employers in the WRC is critical to ensuring that the employment of future entry level workers is tied to a nationally recognized skill standard. When broadly accepted by the employer community, the WRC will signify to entry level workers that employment opportunities will be open to them if they have demonstrated certain knowledge, skills, and abilities. These are skills that supervisors, managers, and other workforce experts agree are most important when looking for entry level workers. These skills include the following:
• • • •

Complete work accurately, and on time to meet a standard of quality Work in teams to achieve mutual goals and objectives Follow work related rules and regulations Demonstrate willingness to work and show initiative

Employers receiving funding under this Literacy grant competition, as well as the employer community in general, will be encouraged to use the WRC as one of several tools to evaluate a potential entry level candidate for employment. Businesses can use the credential to give preference to candidates in an applicant pool. The WRC can also be used as a selection tool so that employers can say they intend to hire only work-ready candidates and that the WRC will be one of the tools used in the selection process. For more information on the National Work Readiness Credential and New Jersey’s participation, go to: www.workreadiness.com or the NJ State Employment and Training Commission at www.njsetc.net.

ATTACHMENT #2 Schedule of Grant Activities and Evaluation Criteria

Timeline: NGO Announcement February 13, 2007

NGO Workshop February 22, 2007 Time and location of workshop – NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development – 13th Floor Auditorium – 1:30pm John Fitch Plaza Trenton, NJ Please visit http://www.state.nj.us/labor for more information.

Application Prequalification: (Prequalification is the notice of intent) Application Preparation: Application Review by NJLWD: Grants Awarded:

Completed and submitted by March 9, 2007 Completed and signed by March 30, 2007 April 2, 2007 until April 27, 2007 May 18, 2007

ATTACHMENT #3

The Work Readiness Profile
What New Workers in Entry Level Jobs Need to Be Able to Do
New workers need to be able to use these EFF Skills*… Communication Skills Speak So Others Can Understand Listen Actively Read With Understanding Observe Critically Interpersonal Skills Cooperate With Others Resolve Conflict and Negotiate Decision Making Skills Use Math to Solve Problems and Communicate Solve Problems and Make Decisions Lifelong Learning Skills Take Responsibility for Learning Use Information and Communications Technology
*Based on Equipped for the Future Standards

well enough to successfully carry out these critical entry level tasks:
Acquire, use and share information accurately and in a timely manner. Use appropriate technology to get the job done. Understand Systems. Monitor and Correct Performance. Work as part of a team to achieve goals and objectives. Work through conflict constructively. Provide direct, accurate and timely responses to customer questions and concerns. Take responsibility for completing one's own work accurately, on time, to a high standard of quality. Demonstrate integrity. Avoid absenteeism. Demonstrate promptness. Maintain appropriate grooming and hygiene. Manage time effectively. Cope with a work situation or tasks that change frequently. Identify actual or potential problems related to one's own work: report them, and help to fix them. Learn new/additional skills related to your job.