New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

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State of New Jersey
Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Seal of New Jersey.svg
Agency overview
Jurisdiction New Jersey
Headquarters 1 John Fitch Plaza
Trenton, NJ 08625
Agency executive
  • Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D., Acting Commissioner

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of New Jersey.

Initially constituted in the late-1940s, pursuant to P.L. 1948, c.446, as the Department of Labor and Industry, the department is one of 16 executive branch departments in New Jersey state government. Governor Jim McGreevey's enactment of P.L. 2004, c.39 in June 2004 changed the name of the department from the New Jersey "Department of Labor" to the New Jersey "Department of Labor and Workforce Development." In addition to the name change, the statutory revisions consolidated and reorganized the state's workforce system.[1]

Department Leadership[edit]

Acting Commissioner Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D. heads the department. Prior to his appointment by Governor Chris Christie in September 2016, Dr. Fichtner served as the department's Deputy Commissioner. Before joining the department in 2010, Dr. Fichtner was director of Research and Evaluation at Rutgers University's Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. In that role, Dr. Fichtner conducted extensive research on the workforce and skill needs of key industries, implemented a variety of workforce and education initiatives, and conducted evaluations of education and training programs. He has also worked in the field of economic development in Jersey City, New Jersey and Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Fichtner currently serves as Chair of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, the workforce development committee of the National Governors Association. He has served as chairman of the Labor Market Information Committee of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA). He currently serves as a board member of NASWA. Dr. Fichtner has been appointed by United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to serve as a member of the Workforce Information Advisory Council (WIAC), a Federal Advisory Committee of fourteen workforce and labor market information experts representing a broad range of national, state, and local data and information users.[2]

Catherine Frugé Starghill, Esq. is the department's Deputy Commissioner. Starghill has been with the department since 2012, previously serving as Executive Director of Workforce Operations and Business Services where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the One-Stop Career Centers and the integrated business outreach of Workforce field staff with other state and local workforce partners. Prior to joining the department, Starghill was the Acting Director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Much of her state government career was spent as the expert on the Open Public Records Act in the Government Records Council and the Privacy Study Commission. Before joining the public sector, she spent many years in the private sector, working in Tax and Legal Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers and on the Corporate Finance Staff of Ford Motor Company.[3]

Gregory Townsend is the department's Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the department, Townsend served as Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Chris Christie where he supervised a team of policy advisors providing high-level policy guidance on issues related to workforce development, transportation, taxation, information technology, energy and the environment. During his tenure in the policy office, he was a member of the National Governors Association New Jersey Policy Academy team, responsible for crafting policies to create a strong talent pipeline by aligning education, workforce development and training systems with the needs of the state’s economy. He joined Governor Christie’s staff in 2010 as Director of Briefings where he was responsible for the daily coordination of up-to-date issue tracking, policy background and logistical details in preparation for each of the Governor’s meetings and events.[4]

Major Program Areas and Selected Accomplishments[edit]

The Department administers several of the most important programs in State government that affect the daily lives of those in the workforce, such as the workers' compensation courts, the unemployment insurance program, the temporary disability insurance program, the family leave insurance program, wage and hour enforcement, and various One-Stop Career Centers.

The Department houses the Employee Residency Review Committee, as established by the New Jersey First Act (N.J.S.A. 52:14-7; P.L. 2011, c.70). Signed into law by Governor Chris Christie and effective September 1, 2011, the New Jersey First Act contains new residency requirements for most public officers and employees. The New Jersey First Act states in pertinent part that a person may apply to the committee for an exemption from the residency requirement based on certain criteria.[5][6]

To improve the skills of the state's workforce, the Department awards grants to businesses to help train their employees. Literacy skills training grants are designed to improve workers' language proficiency, reading comprehension, communication, mathematical skill, and computer literacy skills. Customized Training grants are awarded to companies to help improve workers' skills in specific areas. Grants are awarded monthly on a competitive basis and can be used for either classroom or on-the-job training.[7]

On November 30, 2011, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, who was serving as Acting Governor at the time, formally launched the website at the Trenton One-Stop Career Center. Administered by the Department, the free website guides both job seekers and employers "through the maze of state and federal services and offers a unique tool that allows visitors to go online and quickly upload or create a customized résumé." The website is designed to connect job seekers and employers looking for workers.[8]


External links[edit]