To promote economic growth in Trenton, the city must increase access to a wider range of quality jobs and high-demand career pathways for Trenton’s adult population, including those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. To do this, the City should enhance coordination among stakeholders within Trenton’s workforce system – the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board and One-Stop Career Center, nonprofit workforce development providers, training providers and educators such as Mercer Community College, and employers. By bringing together public, private and non-profit stakeholders to understand the current and anticipated hiring and training needs of local and regional employers, Trenton can maximize employment opportunities for all Trenton residents.
City Representation and Partnerships
To accomplish this, the City must ensure a City representative is an active member of the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board. The City and its workforce development partners should also create a task force to provide data and conduct further studies on the City’s workforce demands and strengths. The task force should advocate for necessary adult education and workforce training strategies. Moreover, this group could initiate an online and print awareness campaign that would promote workforce services available within Trenton so that those seeking jobs and training can identify the free or low-cost options available to them.
The City of Trenton and other workforce development stakeholders should establish a pipeline for residents to job opportunities within city development projects. This pipeline can be accomplished by enforcing local hiring requirements and by increasing residents’ awareness of existing jobs. This integration should increase the number and breadth of access points Trenton residents have to employment.
Like Trenton’s youth, adult job seekers must also have access to affordable higher education and training relevant to local and regional industries, including industrial jobs. Adult job seekers must also be given the opportunity to remediate their foundational workforce skills to ensure that higher education and technical or advanced workforce training is effective. To meet this need, the City of Trenton should expand connections to Mercer Community College, both by supporting expanded programming at the Trenton location and identifying opportunities to increase access for Trenton residents to the primary campus. The City of Trenton should explore leveraging its proximity to public transit to create a shared space near the Transit Center area that could house classroom space, which would be used by relevant satellite programs with regional higher educational institutions, in addition to being open for rent to other community groups. Providing this combination of placement and training opportunities will position adult learners and job seekers in Trenton to pursue quality jobs.
Persons Involved in the Criminal Justice System
Individuals who are reentering the Trenton workforce after time within the criminal justice system will benefit from many of the same workforce programs that are utilized by adults who are have not had this experience. Trenton’s workforce system should provide a dedicated program for adults who have criminal convictions and are seeking work, and also explore best practices for enabling such adults to return to the workplace and reduce recidivism. The City should consider working with organizations like the Center for Employment Opportunities to provide services in Trenton or leverage their best practices, such as making highly supervised transitional employment opportunities available to ex-offenders and advocate to reduce barriers for employment.