From high taxes to too much regulation, New Jersey is often criticized for its business climate, but a new ranking shows off one of the state's major assets.

Site Selection magazine, which delivers expansion planning information to nearly 50,000 executives of fast-growing firms, named New Jersey No. 2 in its 2016 Workforce Development rankings for the nine northeast states.

That is a jump from the number 4 spot in 2015.

"One of New Jersey's competitive advantages is our skilled workforce," Michele Siekerka, New Jersey Business and Industry Association President and CEO. "And that's great when you want to attract companies to come to the state, to tout a skilled workforce."

The strong ranking also underscores a major effort by the NJBIA to make workforce readiness a priority in the state.

"We work very closely and very well facilitating partnerships among academia, government, and the private sector," Siekerka said.

The sides work together to develop and implement programs designed to make sure prospective employees have not only high-tech skills, but also the employable skills needed in today's highly competitive job market. Some of those skills include: writing, verbal, critical thinking, and time-management. The intent of these efforts are to constantly strengthen the state's workforce pipeline.

"New Jersey is a great state when it comes to offering opportunities for businesses to come here, to come grow here, to stay here, to sustain here," Siekerka said.

Working with academia and state government, NJBIA's successful efforts include the NJBIA Basic Skills Workforce Training Program taught at county colleges by the New Jersey County College Consortium for Workforce & Economic Development. In addition, a 12-week fabricated metal manufacturing training program developed by NJBIA's Manufacturers Network and the NJCCC is providing metalworkers with 300 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction.

"New Jersey is extremely competitive and companies who are looking to relocate for a talented workforce should absolutely consider New Jersey at the top of their list," Siekerka said.

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