History and Mission Statement
Founded in 1975 as a private, not for profit organization, the Garden State Employment and Training Association, Inc. has functioned as a forum for New Jersey’s workforce development professionals to share their expertise and to promote professional development. The mission of the Association is “to provide leadership, and promote quality and excellence for the advancement of New Jersey’s workforce development system and its customers and professionals.”

The Garden State Employment and Training Association, more commonly referred to as GSETA, was formed in response to a statewide need to coordinate the development and implementation of state, regional and national workforce policies. By serving as a clearinghouse on workforce matters and issues, GSETA provides effective leadership through the expertise of its collective membership and other affiliated organizations.

One of the Association’s projects, its annual Workforce Conference, began in 1982, and is integral in helping GSETA achieve its mission. The conference, which is the largest of its kind in New Jersey, brings together national, state, and local stakeholders of the workforce system. This includes individuals from the fields of education, training, employment, organized labor, economic development, human services, and the private sector, who showcase projects in workforce development and related services. In addition to providing multiple learning opportunities and capacity building, the conference is also used to acknowledge individuals throughout the State of New Jersey who have successfully overcome serious personal barriers to change their lives and begin the journey toward socio-economic self-sufficiency. Approximately 35 scholarship awards are presented each year to such individuals, with funds raised through the conference.


The membership of GSETA allows for each of New Jersey’s Local Workforce Areas to maintain representation. All members serve as volunteers, and there are no paid staff. GSETA’s Executive Committee consists of a President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and three Trustees, all of whom are elected annually by the membership. The immediate Past President also serves on the Executive Committee. There are currently 43 members representing all of New Jersey’s 18 local workforce areas. These members are, predominantly, the Directors and Administrators of New Jersey’s publicly funded employment and training programs. Included are the local Workforce Investment Board Directors and the Administrators of various programs authorized under the Workforce Investment Act, the Workforce Development Program, Welfare-to-Work, Work First New Jersey, School-to-Careers, Youth Opportunities, and other employment and training initiatives. In keeping with its philosophy of inclusion, GSETA works with a variety of organizations to enhance and promote the workforce system throughout the state. In addition to our partners in the New Jersey Departments of Labor, Human Services, Community Affairs, and Education, as well as the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission, GSETA shares common elements with such organizations as the New Jersey Association of Lifelong Learning, the New Jersey Association of Counties, and the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, to name a few.

However, GSETA is the only private, non-profit organization in the state whose mission encompasses all of New Jersey’s Workforce Development system.

Conference Information
The first workforce conference sponsored by GSETA was held in 1982. Early conferences were day-long and GSETA summarized its conference proceedings, using those summaries to develop and implement polices that effected services in the local areas. Through 1985, approximately 250 individuals participated each year and conference co-sponsors were limited to government related organizations.

Since then the Conference has grown in scope, and in 1986 Corporate Sponsorship was a.  The Conference is now a two day event and offers an average of 25 capacity building workshops and is attended by over 800 individuals.  A highlight of the Conference is the STAR (Student Achievement Recognition) Award luncheon.  In May 2006, the award was renamed the Sharon Dutra Memorial Student Training Achievement Award in honor of our beloved and dedicated colleague.

In addition to the STAR Awards, the “Harry L. Wheeler Professional Service Award” and “GSETA Public Service Award” were added in the 1980s.

Other Information
GSETA maintains an internet site that provides information on current workforce issues ,as well as, conference information and offers on-line registration.

The Association publishes an annual conference journal that highlights its programs and the recipients of the annual Harry Wheeler and STAR Awards.

GSETA also publishes a newsletter.

Information about Membership
Membership is open to individuals and organizations that have a vested interest in the state’s vast workforce system.