NJ's tech sector aims to lasso talent before graduation day

Governor seeks to reimburse companies for paying interns

Ian Bush
May 29, 2018 - 3:38 pm
Mar 24, 2018; Newark, WI, USA; New Jersey governor Phil Murphy addresses the crowd at Military Park following the march.

© Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com-USA TODAY NETWORK

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — Preventing "brain drain" in New Jersey's tech sector is the aim of two new programs being pushed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

One incentive would lasso talent before graduation day: "When internships are unpaid, a lot of the great potential employees are not identified because they can't afford it," Murphy said. "Not every student has the financial means to take an unpaid internship."

The governor's idea is to partially reimburse companies for paying science, technology, engineering and math interns up to $1,500 per student.

"These are the jobs we need to capture to build New Jersey's future," Murphy said.

Another idea is designed to lessen the pain after a diploma is in hand. New Jersey residents who earn a STEM degree and work in the field in the state for at least four years can get $1,000 annually in years five through eight to defray student loans. Along with mandatory employer matching funds, it amounts to an $8,000 benefit.

Focusing on the annual $12 million cost to taxpayers misses the point, according to Democrat Paul Sarlo. He's sponsoring the measure in the state Senate.

"As budget chairman, the first question I always ask is: How much it's going to cost?" Sarlo said. "In this particular legislation, the question I'm going to ask is: How much money are we going to generate from the income and capital that we're going to create by retaining these students here in the state of New Jersey?"