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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       

October 26, 2005                                                                                                     

 

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO CELEBRATES THE OPENING OF

COUNTY’S WORKFORCE LEARNING LINK IN IRVINGTON

New One-Stop Career Center Offers Basic Skills, Computer Literacy and

Job Readiness Training

 

Irvington, NJOn Wednesday, October 26th, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. joined Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith and representatives from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to celebrate the opening of the County’s Workforce Learning Link in Irvington. The facility, located at the Waris Cultural Center at 62-70 Howard Street, offers free GED preparation, job readiness training, computer literacy workshops and job placement assistance.

 

“Today is a great day,” said DiVincenzo, who noted how Mayor Smith lobbied to get the Workforce Learning Link established in Irvington. “This program gives us another opportunity to provide our residents with necessary tools to improve their basic and computer skills,” he added. “Our goal is to help equip our customers from Irvington and throughout the County with job readiness training for employment opportunities. By opening this site in the heart of the community, we are bringing County services to the people. We want to encourage our residents who need help with their English, math, reading or job preparation skills to take advantage of our One-Stop services,” he added.

 

During a standing-room only ceremony at the Waris Cultural Center, DiVincenzo, Irvington Mayor Smith and Anibal Ramos, Director of the Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment, toured the new facility, the third of its kind in Essex County.

 

“This is truly a special program,” said Ramos. “Through the Learning Link, our customers are able to work on their GED preparation, learn English as a Second Language, and strengthen their basic skills in math and English,” he added, explaining customers are able to work independently and receive assistance from two on-site instructors. Ramos commended Mayor Smith for lobbying to have the Learning Link opened in Irvington. “We are your partners and we will make sure this facility works,” he added.

 

“Success is spelled when preparation meets opportunity,” Mayor Smith said. This Learning Link will provide our young people with preparation to improve their basic skills in math and English and gain job training skills,” he added.

 

“This is a wonderful day for Essex County and Irvington,” said Essex County Freeholder Bilal Beasley. “We have a hidden treasure in our community,” he added.

 

Currently, 50 customers are enrolled at the Essex County Workforce Learning Link in Irvington. The program is open to all Essex County residents, ages 18 and older, seeking a GED, basic skills or job readiness skills. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Janet Share Zatz, Deputy Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said she was delighted to see all of the Learning Link customers at the ribbon cutting ceremony.  “We are a partner and we provide the funding, but the real work goes on here. One of our most important goals is to enable our residents to enhance their skills and become self sufficient,” she added.

 

“The response shows these services are needed in our communities,” said Sam Okparaeke, Manager of the County’s One-Stop Career Center.  “We thank the County Executive for his leadership, his support and interest in expanding employment training opportunities to the residents of Essex County,” he added.

 

“The establishment of the third Learning Link has been a true partnership between the County of Essex, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the City of Irvington, and the leadership of the Waris Cultural Center,” he added.

 

“I am appreciative to the County for partnering with us on this initiative,” said Donald A. Akhtab, Executive Director of the Waris Cultural Center. “Our mission is to be of service and this Learning Link ties into our goal to help our community,” he added.

 

Assemblyman William Payne encouraged the young people gathered at the event to take advantage of the program.  “I wish I would have had something like this when I was growing up,” said the Newark native, who recalled how he missed a year in school due to a sudden illness. “I had to go to night school and summer school to get my education,” he added. Despite any obstacles, Payne urged the Learning Link customers to “believe in yourself and never give up on getting your education. Your GED will make a difference in your life. This is an investment into your future,” he added.

 

The Department of Economic Development Training and Employment, located at 50 South Clinton Street in East Orange, also operates two other Workforce Learning Link sites, one at its headquarters and at the New Jersey Department of Labor’s Employment Office at 57 Park Street in Bloomfield. Currently, the two Learning Links have assisted 250 customers since January.

 

Jennifer Pisciotta, a 20-year-old Newark resident, also welcomes the new location. “It’s convenient, but more importantly this is a wonderful program. It has not only assisted me academically, but has motivated me to get my GED and further my education,” she added. “The Workforce Learning Link has a caring staff. Unlike most traditional GED programs, they allow us to work at our own pace,” she added

 

The Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment also offers a variety of employment training programs for adults through its Workforce Investment Act One-Stop Career Center for low-income residents, unemployed residents or TANF (welfare) customers. For further information about the Workforce Learning Link in Irvington, please call 973-373-8914.

 

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